Tag Archives: bittorrent

EASY PC 2: Legal Downloads

LEGAL DOWNLOADS: Free stuff that won’t put you behind bars

CONTRARY to what most people believe, the downloading of music, movies and software is not entirely illegal. There are actually several things that one can download legally without fearing imprisonment.

Two particularly useful programs that allow one to do this are Limewire and Miro. Each peer to peer program can be downloaded legally without any hitches from the pages linked. They are both lightweight programs that take minutes to install and set up.

Limewire is mostly used for downloading music. The program will ask you whether or not you want access to illegal torrents when you install it. A lot of people tick that option but there are surprisingly several songs you can legally download if left unchecked.

Miro, on the other hand, is the prime pirating program. It can be used to download just about anything, but be warned that this is illegal! However, Miro does offer several legal torrents (i.e. stuff that can be downloaded legally). There are daily podcasts and videos available on Miro that you can legally watch and listen to without fear of building a criminal record.

As with anything involving the Internet, one has to be careful when downloading anything and you must use your discretion. The temptation to download goodies illegally will always be there, but be strong! Ye have be warned…

Kind regards
That Tech Guy

The Pirate Bay

*View this post in HD*

THE PIRATE BAY: It’s web piracy for dummies

IN December last year, I wrote an article about the mysteries and uncertainties of what is known as the Dark Net or Deep Web. I have since taken a dive into the murky online waters and have been astounded to discover how easy it is to become a web-pirate. It was like jumping into a dark lake fully expecting to sink deep, only to discover that the water barely reached my ankles.

Over the holidays, I heard of a Swedish-run website called The Pirate­ Bay (www.thepiratebay.org). The popular site has mimicked Google by offering an easy-to-use search bar on its home page. In place of the comforting Google logo is a pirate ship and just below the search bar is a link to a step-by-step guide on how to download movies­, music, games, TV series, applications and more.

The Pirate Bay

The Pirate Bay homepage

How it works
Websites such as The Pirate Bay are known as BitTorrent trackers. BitTorrent is a file-sharing protocol whereby computer users are able to upload and download (‘share’) computer software with one another over a network. Each individual is allowed complete anonymity and does not need to register to participate.

However, there is a shared understanding among Pirate Bay users — a sort of pirating etiquette — that an individual should make a certain amount of their own content available for others to download if they wish to download software themselves. But this is not an enforced requirement.

There is no cost involved for those wishing to download content and the website earns its revenue by displaying certain adverts alongside torrent listings. In an investigation in 2006, Swedish police concluded that The Pirate Bay was generating roughly $150 000 per year from advertisements. This figure is likely to have tripled since then.

The Pirate Bay is still primarily funded by advertisements but supporters or users also have the option of donating money towards the pirate cause. There are also Pirate Bay T-shirts available for purchase off the website — which, in effect, spreads pirating awareness.

I’m confident that anyone who might consider themselves as technologically incompetent would be able to engage in such activity. You only need to be able to read, write (search) and click a mouse.

Who’s involved
Initially established in November 2003 by Swedish anti-copyright organisation Piratbyrån (The Piracy Bureau) The Pirate Bay has operated as a separate organisation since October 2004. The website is run by Gottfrid Svartholm (aka anakata) and Fredrik Neij (aka TiAMO), who have both been charged with assisting in making copyrighted content available due to their involvement in The Pirate Bay.

The members of The Pirate Bay represent a broad, global spectrum of file sharers and there are currently more than four million registered users. However, because registering is optional and not necessary to download content, the total number of users is likely to be far higher than this figure.

The site gets huge influxes of frequent traffic, so much so that the service is often unavailable at certain times. However, the site claims this never lasts for more than a few seconds.

Legal issues
The thing that I find the most astounding about The Pirate Bay is its completely fearless attitude. The creators have faced several lawsuits and have been to court on more than one occasion. Their argument is that no illegal material is stored on The Pirate Bay server. Rather it operates as a tracker — providing users with the correct paths to find content on other users’ PCs and download directly from them.

According to their disclaimer (if one can call it that) “only torrent files are saved at the server. That means no copyrighted and/or illegal material is stored by us. It is therefore not possible to hold the people behind The Pirate Bay responsible for the material that is being spread using the tracker. Any complaints from copyright or lobby organisations will be ridiculed and published on the site”.

This last line illustrates my point about the fearless attitude. They have received several legal threats via e-mail from companies such as Microsoft and DreamWorks, which have been published on the website along with their cheeky responses for all Pirate Bay users to see. It appears that their trump card is claiming that U.S. infringement laws to not apply in Sweden and they seem to have Swedish lawers on their side.

Rebuttal of legal threats
To illustrate, here’s what was written in response to an e-mail by DreamWorks:

“As you may or may not be aware, Sweden is not a state in the United States of America. Sweden is a country in northern Europe. Unless you figured it out by now, U.S. law does not apply here. For your information, no Swedish law is being violated. Please be assured that any further contact with us, regardless of medium, will result in:

a) a suit being filed for harassment; [and]
b) a formal complaint lodged with the bar of your legal counsel, for sending frivolous legal threats.

“It is the opinion of us and our lawyers that you are … morons, and that you should please go sodomise yourself with retractable batons.”

This next snippet was part of an e-mailed response to Sega after they threatened to sue The Pirate Bay in 2006:

“Please sue me in Japan instead. I’ve always wanted to visit Tokyo. Also, I’m running out of toilet paper, so please send lots of legal documents to our ISP — preferably printed on soft paper.”

The Pirate Bay shows no signs of slowing down and remains the world’s largest file sharing server to date. I leave you with a snippet from The Pirate Bay’s 2009 Christmas letter to its users.

“We believe that we have changed something. Not just us, but all of us. The Pirate Bay has always been something extra … We wanted it to mean something. And you, our users, have helped us with that. The history of the bay is still being written. It’s way too early for a conclusion.”

Shiver me tibers.

IMPORTANT NOTICE
The downloading and distributing of copywrited software IS illegal, despite what websites such as The Pirate Bay might say. The use of such websites is done at your own risk and can lead to a criminal record. Ye have been warned.

Related article: The Dark Web explained

Would you get with GetMo?

GetMo South Africa — SA’s newly formed multimedia platform, is being dubbed as the country’s first all-in-one online digital entertainment service.

A nationwide live music launch tour (to promote GetMo) was held in August, and saw leading South African artists perform 34 free shows at schools, universities and venues in seven cities across the country.

According to company director, Jehan Mackay, “GetMo offers South Africa a wide range of entertainment including music, movies, mobile content and more. The service is available to both mobile and PC users, making it South Africa’s first multi-platform all-in-one digital entertainment service.”

Getmo logo

There is no doubt that the digital entertainment landscape is changing fast, as are users of mobile and PC products. What GetMo aims to accomplish, according to Mackay, is to give South African’s fast and reliable access to value-for-money digital entertainment anywhere at anytime.

In addition to music and movies, GetMo offers consumers online access to ringtones, graphics, video clips, music videos, games and more, all from the same online service, says Klaus Renkl, GetMo Country Manager for SA.

Yet how good is this service in comparison to existing ones? Although there may not be many others that are uniquely South African and offer as much, who gets to decide who SA’s top artists are? I’m a big appreciator of local content, yet truthfully GetMo just didn’t seem to offer much that excited me.

*The following is from a Q+A with the peeps behind GetMo

CONTENT & QUALITY:
The content available on getmo.com is aggregated from the major music labels, as well other major or independent entertainment content owners and game developers. GetMo claims to be able to support all content types and encourages independent filmmakers, designers, creators and the like to make their content available.

The developers aim to set the highest quality standards, especially when it comes to mobile content. According to Mackay, “we demand the highest technical complexity to ensure that each content item works on each mobile handset”.

PRICING:
Whereas most other digital entertainment services offer a pay-as-you-use model, GetMo includes a unique all-you-can-eat service, which allows customers limitless amounts of entertainment on any device they choose for a constant monthly fee.

Consumers can either look out for various GetMo Club Card options (available free of charge and bundled with other products), purchase items directly via credit card on an item-by-item basis, or purchase GetMo Club Cards which allows unlimited access to content for one or more months.

UNIQUENESS:
What is rather appealing about the GetMo product site is that it offers pre-listening sessions, previews, movie trailers, descriptions and other metadata around the items available. This really helps make informed choices and helps ensure that consumers get exactly what they want.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of GetMo is its use of peer-to-peer distribution technologies, which allows users to share files between each other legally. According to Mackay:

“Our legal P2P (peer-to-peer) technology also allows us to use the individual hard drives of PC owners to help distribute large files more effectively (known as the bittorrent principle). This advanced technology has often been misused for illegal file sharing. However, we have designed and approved a platform that enables a legal service without losing any of the benefits.”

If you have ever heard of a nifty file-sharing program called Bearshare, GetMo uses pretty much the same principle. One is able to choose what files on their PC to share across the internet and is able to download zillions of files from others. It used to be entirely illegal and several existing loopholes allow it to remain so. How GetMo manages (or will mange) to keep it all kosher is something I’m waiting to see.

GRIPES:
I’ve been in possession of a Zen Vision mp4 player for about two weeks now. It comes with an introduction CD which includes a Britney Spears music video and some idea on what the games (which are considered as “mobile”) are like, but has no software. One needs to visit their site to download the required software (i.e. the GetMo media suite), which is a 47 meg download required if one wants to share media files with others across an internet network.

To be honest I haven’t felt the urge to use my GetMo media suite or download anything off the website. I am quite keen to get a few movies though. Unfortunately all the videos available so far are cheap Bollywood productions, which is possibly due to the fact that GetMo South Africa is owned by Arvato Middle East Sales (AMES). I’m not much of a fan of Bollywood.

Otherwise if music videos, ‘mobile’ games, wallpapers and ringtones are what you want, there is quite a good collection of those. I’ve been quite content with using my Zen vision as an mp3 player, flash stick and alarm clock (no software required! It’s all a matter of copy and paste).

I’ve also tried converting my favorite shows and movies into mp4 files to see how those tickle my fancy on the tiny screen without too much success. One can download trial versions of several mp4 converters, but these either only convert the first few minutes of a video file or bomb out after a couple of weeks. The full versions of such converters go for between $25 – $30.

Does anyone know of a free, full-version mp4 converter available for download?? Otherwise I guess it’s back to illegal file-sharing!

For more information visit www.getmo.com

PS: if your in the market for an mp4 player, and have some cash to spend, go for the ipod nano – you won’t regret it!