Telex Aids Defeating Web Censors

Telex is the software developed by US computer scientists with the purpose to hide data from banned websites inside traffic from sites deemed safe.

In test mode, Telex managed to defeat Chinese web filters thanks to its ingenious software. Its development started in early 2010 and the four member team – one being Dr. Alex Halderman – did an amazing effort to make Telex work against other anti-censorship technologies.

Most of the existing anti-censorship systems connect to a server or network outside the country in which a user lives. Promoting these servers and networks just enough so that censors can’t hear about them is the key to their success. However, Telex turns this approach against itself, Dr. Halderman said.

“Instead of having some server outside the network that’s participating we are doing it in the core of the network,” he said.
What Telex does is to take advantage on the small number of net-censoring nations.

How does it work ? For example, if a user stumbles upon a banned website, as it connects Telex puts a tag or marker on the datastream being sent to a safe destination. Then the routing points outside the country recognise that the datastream has been marked and re-direct a request to a banned site. Finally it bounces back to the user just as if it were data from a safe site.

Speaking of safety, the data is locked through a cryptograpic key that can be used only by the owner. This technique helps Telex being safe from intereferece, said Dr. Halderman.

“You cannot see this marker unless you have a corresponding private key,” he said.

Telex’s spotting routers unlock the banned content by using the cryptographic key we mentioned earlier. When Telex is deployed, ISPs usually add marker-spotting software to their routers.

Tests were ran by the development team for several months which proved to overcome even sophisticated filtering systems.
“We’ve also tried it from within China bouncing it off computers there,” he said. “So far, we’ve had no problems with the censorship there.”

The team succesfuly viewed banned content like HD YouTube videos and sites tagged „subversive” by Chinese authorities.
One of the biggest concerns for Telex was to reach its users uncompromised by net censors who might add key loggers or spyware, said Dr. Halderman.

“The most difficult part is making sure the connections the user is making to an uncensored website that we use to disguise the censored content are convincing enough,” he said.

“But, that’s the parameter we would adjust as the censor becomes more sophisticated.”

A formal launch of the program is planned by the development team at the upcoming Usenix security confference. Hopefuly, this confference will become a promoter to the ever growing number of people working on anti-censorship tools, he said.

“We are all seeing how powerful information can be at helping citizens assert themselves and their human rights,” he said. “It’s a deeply interesting technical problem and a goal that’s worthy of any technologist’s attention.”

(via BBC)

Artists Offer 50,000 Free Music Albums on BitTorrent

Jamendo is a name that many music enthusiasts know. With over 300.000 tracks and 50.000 albums offered since its birth, this website holds an impressive music database.

Starting with only 500 albums 5 years ago, Jamendo is today a vast database of free music including different genres. Its impressive statistics outrank even important record labels. Supporting p2p even from the start, Jamendo’s Sylvie de Lannois said that the BitTorrent choice was only natural since artists consider it a good way to promote their work.
Speaking with TorrentFreak, De Lannois said:

“We were one of the first platforms to provide legal music torrents because the artists on Jamendo wanted to use the P2P networks to share their music and have it discovered. At the beginning it was also a very good solution, very reliable and economical.”

An interesting fact is that Jamendo’s seeding is taken care of by artists and fans. Contrary to what many might think about BitTorrent, Jamendo’s artists publish their work on all major BitTorrent sites. Supporting this are the 315.000 tracks that can be found on their website.

Under the Creative Commons license Jamendo can be considered as the launching pad for a new music industry.

We are a new opportunity for a new generation of artists, we provide new tools and a new legal framework. Every day, new artists are joining Jamendo. We want to be part of a new organisation of the music distribution where the artists have the choice and can decide how they want to be diffused,” De Lannois said.

Moreover, its users can review and donate directly to artists if they appreciate their work. “Jamendo is not American Idol, the promise is not to become a star with Jamendo, we prefer to have thousands of artists who can get new fans, share their music and sometimes make some money. The most popular artists on Jamendo have millions of listens, this is the best rewards they can get.”

For Jamendo artists’ needs are the first priority and the 1.000.000 music enthusiasts are a boost of confidence for new comers.

XPays Continues the Hunt for Pirates of “Paris Hilton Sex Tape”

A second copyright infringement complaint has been filed by San Francisco-based XPays against BitTorrent users who allegedly have uploaded and downloaded copies of the “Paris Hilton Sex Tape.”

Filed earlier this week at U.S. District Court at Los Angeles, the federal complaint accuses 995 individuals of copyright infringement but also of unfair business practices claiming the defendants are acting as “secondary producers” as it relates to 18 U.S.C. § 2257.

The complaint reads: “By inserting unauthorized copies of [XPays' movie] into the BitTorrent program, defendants became ‘secondary producers’ of [XPays' movie] … and they are subject to all of the requirements imposed on ‘secondary producers’ by the 2257 regulations.”

This is the second lawsuit filled by the company – the first one came in January against 843 Does, but did not embody language in its original complaint relative to possible 2257 violations among the Does; in March XPays was favored by U.S. Judge James Otero’s decision and allowed to demand ISPs to reveal the identities of the John Does initially accused of copyright infringement.

In the habit established by such lawsuits, offers of out-of-court settlements were made – file-sharers were invited to make a deal and not risk a trial in exchange for $500 paid to XPays.

Since 2004 the company has the rights to sell and market online the sex video featuring Paris Hilton video (known as “1 Night in Paris,”). The rights for DVD distribution belong exclusively to Red Light District.

Reliance BIG Pictures Obtains Court Order, Banns Files Sharing Sites in India

Since yesterday, Indian file-sharers, unfortunate customers of certain ISPs, are unable to access torrent websites due to an order Reliance BIG Pictures got which allows them to service cease and desist notices on file-sharing services pirating the movie Singham, MediaNama reports.

The order is pretty special in itself since it doesn’t cover just pirates but also ISPs:
“A John Doe order is given against unidentified people, because the copyright owner doesn’t know who is going to infringe. We anticipate that certain entities are going to infringe, and the Delhi High Court has granted us a John Doe order,” explained Big Pictures VP (Music and Anti Piracy) Sanjay Tandon.

It all started with Airtel Broadband users reporting they couldn’t access several file sharing websites including MediaFire, Megaupload, Rapidshare, Megavideo, VideoBB.com, Movshare.com, Hotfile.com, Fileserve.com, Filesonic.in, Depositfiles.com, but soon the list of ISPs blocking similar services extended to Zylog, MTNL Triband and probably others.

While Tandon claims that the order only demands that ISPs should prevent the film Singham from being shared online accessible and doesn’t dictates the blocking of an entire website, since the ISPs cannot monitor individual occurrences of piracy, they simply preferred to block the filesharing sites than risk being sanctioned themselves.

Dumpster Drive: Digital Trash Becomes Content for File-Sharing

In an increasing environmentally aware society (?), recycling has become a key concept to validate your civic consciousness. What does that have to do with file-sharing you ask? Well, a new Mac OS X app comes to make the transition of recycling into the digital world.

Called Dumpster Drive, the app allows people to share files they no longer need and want to delete from their system with other people who might find them useful. Got you to say ‘what?!’ right?

So, digging through thrash has come to the digital world – After downloading the app (here) and installing it, you just need to choose a folder to use as a dumpster for the files you no longer want stored on your computer – once you ‘throw’ them there they are automatically uploaded to a server allowing other Dumpster Drive users to access them.

Just be careful what files you choose to dispose of. Some of your garbage you may never want to expose.

From the site:

“Dumpster Drive allows others to dig through files that you delete on your computer in a passive file-sharing network. Instead of simply erasing data from your computer, the software allows users to extend the lifecycle of their unwanted files and pass them on to others.”

Dumpster Drive: File Sharing For Your Digital Trash from Justin Blinder on Vimeo.

Most likely, the app will soon become available for other platforms as well.