Feeds

US Patent Office says P2P threatens national security

Drags kids into life of crime, too

Security for virtualized datacentres

The US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) has launched a stinging attack on peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing services, publishing a report (pdf) from its Office of International Relations earlier this month.

"A decade ago, the idea that copyright infringement could become a threat to national security would have seemed implausible," said USPTO director Jon Dudas, introducing the document. "Now, it's a sad reality."

The report examines popular P2P platforms BearShare, eDonkey, KaZaA, LimeWire, and Morpheus. The central thrust of the authors is that the programs are designed to get users to share files inadvertently, thus incriminating themselves. They conclude that “the distributors of these five file-sharing programs have repeatedly deployed features that had a known propensity to trick users into uploading infringing files by accident.”

The USPTO writers admit, however, that “in each case, an obscure mechanism appears to allow sophisticated users to avoid the coerced-sharing feature and stop sharing.” They go on to speculate that “schemes that targeted young or unsophisticated users would also ensure that attempts to enforce copyrights against those infringers who upload hundreds or thousands of infringing files would tend to target young or sympathetic users.” This would cunningly make the people doing the enforcing look bad, as they hauled the P2P distributors’ youthful dupes into court.

The threat to national security comes in when people with sensitive information install P2P software. Dudas said the “government employees or contractors who had installed file-sharing programs on their home or work computers … repeatedly compromised national and military security by sharing files containing sensitive or classified data.”

Sensitive materials have appeared on file-sharing networks for years, but typically viruses or intentional leaks have been blamed. In this case, the USPTO is pointing the finger squarely at the P2P designers.

“There will almost never be a legitimate business or governmental justification for employee use of file-sharing programs,” says the report.

Many might ask exactly why the patents office felt the need to weigh in here. However, Dudas’ full job title is Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property, and the USPTO makes no secret of the fact that it sees itself with a big role in copyright protection and even enforcement. The patent authorities aren’t concerned with protecting national security. They are acting here mainly to protect copyright. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Bono apologises for iTunes album dump
Megalomania, generosity and FEAR of irrelevance drove group to Apple deal
HBO shocks US pay TV world: We're down with OTT. Netflix says, 'Gee'
This affects every broadcaster, every cable guy
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Arab States make play for greater government control of the internet
Nerds told to get lost in last-minute power grab bid at UN meeting
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express
Series finally hits stride, but Clara's U-turn is baffling
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Win a year’s supply of chocolate
There is no techie angle to this competition so we're not going to pretend there is, but everyone loves chocolate so who cares.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.