August 13, 2004 12:07 PM PDT

Group cites Microsoft threat, says no SP2 over P2P

A group that advocates for peer-to-peer networks said it has stopped distributing Microsoft's Windows XP Service Pack 2 update following legal threats from the software maker.

Earlier this week, Downhill Battle had started offering Microsoft's free update through file-sharing network BitTorrent as a way to demonstrate the potential of peer-to-peer networks for more efficiently distributing large software updates. At the time, Microsoft did not comment on the legality of the action, but analysts noted that the action might well be infringing on Microsoft's intellectual-property rights.

A Downhill Battle representative said Friday that two of the companies that host its Web sites received notices from Microsoft to take down the software, notes that cited the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. A Microsoft representative declined to comment.

Although it has fought DMCA notices in the past, the group said it complied with the requests.

"We'd stood up to stuff like that before...when there was a real compelling political reason to," said Downhill Battle co-founder Holmes Wilson. But the group felt it had made its point. "Our real goal was to demonstrate how useful this technology could be."

The site the company had set up,, now points those in search of SP2 directly to the software maker.

"If you need Windows XP SP2, you can download it from Microsoft's inscrutable webpage," the group said on the site.

The file that Downhill Battle had been distributing is actually an update that Microsoft said is designed for companies that want to update large numbers of machines. Microsoft finalized the code for SP2 last week but has not yet made available the download that is designed to upgrade individual machines. The company has said it will do so by the end of the month.

Some analysts had expressed security concerns over getting such an update other than through Microsoft, Wilson said that files distributed by peer-to-peer networks can be authenticated using a secure hash, as can those distributed directly by Microsoft.

Despite the situation, Wilson said his organization thinks its effort around SP2 was a success. Eventually, he said, Microsoft and other large companies will start to see the positive role that peer-to-peer networks can play.

"Even established companies like Microsoft will be using technology like this in the next few years to distribute large files," Wilson said in an interview. "There truly are compelling reasons to use this technology. Eventually the utility is going to win out."


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What good is invoking the DMCA in this case?
Traditional copyright law provides all the facilities necessary to stop such activity.
Posted by unknown unknown (1951 comments )
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P2P not viable on a large scale.
People think that P2P piracy is wide-spread, but honestly, P2P is small potatoes. P2P is a failure because it starts spreading a significant amount of the Internets load to the outer edge, at it's slowest points. Most cable and DSL have capped uploads. If companies like Microsoft started using P2P networks to distribute their load, you'd feel like you are back on a modem.

Networks simply do not work well when you push heavy load to the slowest points. When will this lesson be learned?
Posted by (28 comments )
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Think about it
"Most cable and DSL have capped uploads."
This is why BitTorrent breaks up a large file into smaller chunks and simultaneously downloads separate chunks from anyone online who has the file. eMule does this also, with the result that when I personally downloaded a 200MB file in pieces simultaneously from four other eMule users I discovered that I was also uploading those chunks I had already received to six other people that were requesting the file. Now since the ethernet protocol standard is to upload at one-tenth the speed of download, it only takes a dozen "seeders" to enable ethernet connections to upload faster than they download .... and this distribution model will work on virtually any network. That is why the following quote is false

"If companies like Microsoft started using P2P networks to distribute their load, you'd feel like you are back on a modem."

Think about what distributes fastest through the internet, and how it does so .... I ask you, is any distribution model faster than an email virus? and how do they work? they read the local address book and use it to build a peer-to-peer style network that has no prior existence -- thus demonstrating that P2P can run faster than any other distribution model even when the P2P has no prior existence ....
Posted by Kamael (1 comment )
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