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The Internet The Almighty Buck

AT&T Invests in Filtered Networking 152

Filtered Coward writes "Last summer, AT&T announced its intention to begin filtering copyrighted content at some point. The telecom has now bought a chunk of Vobile, whose core product is VideoDNA. "Like other systems of its kind, VideoDNA develops a unique signature from every frame of video. The signature is meant to be robust enough to survive various transformations and edits, and it can then be used to run matches against incoming content.' Vobile claims that VideoDNA is good enough to be used on video when transmitted over a network. 'Based on the complexity of the problem, we suspect that anything initially deployed by AT&T will fall far short of a robust P2P video filter. But should AT&T truly have its eyes on just such a prize, the company would be in a powerful position to impose its own policies on the entire US, since it owns major parts of the Internet backbone.'"
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AT&T Invests in Filtered Networking

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  • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Friday November 16, 2007 @01:53AM (#21375205) Homepage
    This seems to imply that copyright-infringing video is being streamed over the network. Does this ever happen? More likely it is broken up into completely arbitrary chunks, which may or may not contain an entire frame and are unlikely to be delivered in sequential order. Furthermore, any form of network or P2P encryption currently in use ought to be able to defeat this. I wonder how much AT&T will be spending on this plan?
  • by wizardforce ( 1005805 ) on Friday November 16, 2007 @02:09AM (#21375313) Journal
    You know what is next, they're going to throttle anything that is encrypted lest it have any illegal content that they can't scan. comcast was nothing just wait until the new overlords take over. Not only that but I'll bet they'll try to get the support of the legal system somehow...
  • Fair Use? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by corsec67 ( 627446 ) on Friday November 16, 2007 @02:14AM (#21375327) Homepage Journal
    What about Fair use?
    or, what if frames are the same between 2 different movies. (Fade to black, fade to white, common things like FBI warning, etc...)
  • Copyright Law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drspliff ( 652992 ) on Friday November 16, 2007 @02:15AM (#21375337)
    Allows you to fairly use content in a situation which merits it, for example:
    * Educational material
    * Parodies
    * Licensed use
    * Short clips
    * Lots of others

    I'm not in the USA, but say for example I own a hard copy of a movie or TV show on DVD, am I "allowed" to stream it from home during my lunch break or after work when this system is possibly live?

    Remember, if they are doing filtering it means they are no longer a common carrier, what is the legality of this in regard to third party content; if I were to transfer illegal content over their connection will they be liable for this because they haven't filtered it out? Or will the law apply to them when it suites em.

    There are so many holes in this I couldn't possibly see this implemented, not to mention the resources that'd be required on their end to keep up with the constant change in codecs/compression methods and to be able to decode it in realtime.

    Yeah, it's just speculation at the moment, but in a really dark and unfunny way I can see PHBs combined with RIAA/MPAA mafia seriously pushing something similar based on their draconian previous tendancies.
  • Dear AT&T (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2007 @02:25AM (#21375385)
    Dear AT&T,

    I have been a voice customer with you for many, many years, and I have chosen to get my internet service from you in the days of yore - 1996, with a 56k modem, and four years later, I upgraded to your residential ADSL product. I've always been content with your service - sure, the random two-hour downtimes at 1 AM every four or five months piss me off, but I understand that sometimes, you just gotta do it.

    I've done my part in being a loyal customer; I only call when I'm sure the problem lays beyond my DSL modem, I don't torrent often, and I've never tried to do anything shady to your other customers. Over the past decade, you've treated me well by not blocking inbound port 80 traffic. That's why I haven't ever moved to a much faster Cable connection. Hell, I even work for a CLEC and if I was so inclined, I could have a free 1.5 SDSL line - but I haven't done that because you've given me no reason to go through the hassle of set-up.

    You might have spied on me. Don't get me wrong - I'm plenty pissed off about that. But I know it wasn't anything personal. I know how upper management can be when the NSA comes knocking. The way things are going, I think you'll ultimately answer to us for what you did, so I won't stress too much about it. Anything important is encrypted, anyways.

    But now, my dear AT&T, for the first time in a decade, I don't know what to think about you. Your problems with torrenting and streaming video are that you don't have enough bandwidth to accommodate all of your customers. You've grossly oversold your network's capacity, just like my company does, and now you're being bit for it. It's an unpleasant situation for you - trust me, I know exactly how that feels.

    But now, how many billions are you going to spend on this fingerprinting system for video? How many people will work on this project? How many legitimate packets of mine is this going to slow down or drop? And, in the first week this system goes live, won't everybody just turn crypto on and use YouTube over https? Billions of dollars...flushed right down the toilet in an instant!

    Now, as I said, I'm just a humble legacy customer. I started out at SNET, then get assimilated into SBC/Yahoo, finally ending up as a customer of the Great Bell Company. But, might I, a meek twice-legacy customer, suggest that you ax this project and ***invest the fucking money in buying more fiber, thereby solving the actual problem***?

    I mean, come on. What the fuck do you care if people are stealing the latest blockbuster using your network? You're not in the business of being moral guardians, and there's no way in hell a court would ever hold you liable for something like this.

    Just know, my old friend, that if you do end up implementing this, the first time one of my packets gets dropped mistakenly, you damn well better believe I'll take my company up on that free SDSL line. And I'll be living here for a long time to come.

    The Happiest AT&T Customer Ever

  • Re:Co-conspirators (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stonertom ( 831884 ) <stonertom@gmail.com> on Friday November 16, 2007 @03:04AM (#21375591)
    If i were a customer, i would want to know why i can't download a film off my ftp, but still get spam and malware. As an aside, shouldn't they use this for worse things than copyright infringement?
  • Re:Yeah right.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Friday November 16, 2007 @03:17AM (#21375647)
    You're entitled to your opinion, but not your facts.

    In the 1900s-1930s, utilities were of a public benefit and received numerous breaks. AT&T is not the AT&T of yesteryear. Through the US TCA of 1996, and subsequent legislation, the breakup of the 'Bell' companies then reformed into the morass we face today in the US. That infrastructure was supposed to be a public, not private, asset base. Now it's to be a return on investment for the telcos-- especially AT&T. AT&T is a combination of SW Bell, Ameritech, assets of AT&T Wireless, AT&T Long Lines, and other property grabs. Their anti-competitive stance, and long failure to invest in infrastructure instead of lobbying every congressional office in Washington DC with a bevy of lawyers, is what got them the advantage they currently have. Now they want to filter content, to their advantage likely (they intend to distribute video themselves) is a violation of public trust in my opinion.

    The FCC plays into their hands. AT&T gives up private information readily to the US government in an onerous way.

    You otherwise know nothing about me, and your anonymity prevents you from standing up to be suitably addressed. And you call me a coward. Fie.

  • Re:Good ole Ma (Score:3, Insightful)

    by keithmo ( 453716 ) on Friday November 16, 2007 @04:05AM (#21375831) Homepage

    c) can be circumvented with encryption

    At this point, could using any form of on-the-wire encryption be considered a "circumvention device" and therefore illegal under the DMCA?

Science may someday discover what faith has always known.