NBCUniversal has patented a new method to track users of peer-to-peer file sharing services in real-time. Companies like NBC Universal and others have long battled internet piracy of their protected content. BitTorrent services like the Pirate Bay have been a long standing method for pirates to share copyrighted material over the internet. But it’s important to understand that BitTorrent services aren’t inherently bad and just because someone uses one doesn’t mean they’re a pirate. That being said, NBC Universal is determined to make sure their content doesn’t get stolen.
Their new patented method would be initiated through ISPs and would target files that have been popular pirated files such as movies and music. The new method would track these files on the ISP and raise an alarm when it detected a swarm of users sharing the same file.
It’s worth noting that the patent was filed way back in 2009, and the methods described may not be suitable for successfully verifying files that have had their digital fingerprints obscured by experienced pirates.
In addition, the filing includes a misguided suggestion for ISPs to use the data collected about file-sharing swarms to limit or block that sort of traffic, in order to save on operating costs. There isn’t much sense to that because issues for broadband services like network congestion are rubbish, as this video explains below.
NBCUniversal has yet to make use of this patent but it certainly has it in its back pocket and development is likely ongoing. Part of the issue some may have with this is the privacy intrusion on those who may be file sharing legally. That’s a big grey area at the moment and we’ll just have to wait to see how this all shakes out.
What do you think of this patent? Do you think NBC Universal will use this tech? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.