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Pirate Bay aims to sink BitTorrent

File-sharing arms race

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The buccaneers of Pirate Bay are working on a replacement for the BitTorrent protocol in fear their access to free music, video and software could be blocked by commercial interests.

The Swedish anti-copyright collective is building a new P2P system aimed at reducing the influence of BitTorrent's inventor Bram Cohen and the company he founded. The new protocol is also being designed to avoid malware, spam and the attentions of law enforcement.

In July 2006, version 6.0 of the official BitTorrent client was the first released without the source code. It caused grumbles in the file-sharing community that BitTorrent Inc., where Cohen recently switched from CEO to chief scientist, would stymie protocol development in its bid to cash in. Its new work on the protocol is now closed.

More recent attacks by copyright owners have highlighted the second front in the sharers' battle to continue exchanging files unhindered. The leaked Media Defender emails revealed how concerted efforts are made to stuff BitTorrent networks with useless honeypot files.

Soon after, the high-profile shutdown of OiNK showed that authorities had infiltrated a supposedly private music-sharing network. The UK record industry seems close to a deal with ISPs to monitor P2P networks for copyright infringement too.

The Pirate Bay's new protocol is currently nameless. It has been decided that the equivalent of .torrent files will be XML-based and carry the suffix .p2p, however. It's being developed so that clients for .p2p downloads are able to handle .torrent files too.

The developers also aim to make .p2p users more secure and harder to trace than BitTorrenters. They write: "Counter measures to defeat traffic analysis would be interesting. This would also lead to a semi-anonymous system that would allow for plausible deniability."

The new protocol's public brainstorming and design pages are here. ®

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