Thursday, June 16, 2005

Overpeer acquires important Anti-Piracy Patent

Overpeer Acquires Patent from the University of Tulsa Covering Anti-Piracy on Peer-to-Peer Networks

Overpeer, Inc., an also ran in business-to-business digital media solutions has acquired U.S. Patent No. 6,732,180 from the University of Tulsa. The patent defines a system for closely imitating digital media files on peer-to-peer networks. The technology covered by this patent can impair the ability of peer-to-peer users from illegitimately acquiring copyrighted files.


P2P and copyright infringment go together, atleast for now. While p2p is all about freedom et al, there's another side to it -- the virually unstoppable force of the network. So how would this "anti p2p technology" work, I wonder.

Wild guesses work. Let me try some.

Ok, we know that every file (in pure layman'ish way) has a unique signature - a Hash.
The MD5 and SHA-1 algorithms are two popular but compromised algorithms for generating cryptographic hash functions; the SHA-2 algorithm has no known compromises.

P2P networks (like the popular bit-torrent) work on a principal based on hash. Typically,
to share a file using BitTorrent, a user creates a .torrent file, a small "pointer" file which contains:
  • the filename, size, and the hash of each block in the file (which allows users to make sure they are downloading the real thing)
  • the address of a "tracker" server (which is discussed below)
  • and some other data.
Now this Hash serves as a reference checking tool whereby the downloader manages ditributed file transfer and check whether portions recieved are complete and authentic (you might recieve incomplete portions, in which case the signature -- hash -- won't match). And here lies an important key to tap the whole transaction. If you know the file signature, you know which files are being transferred and how.

So if 'Star Wars' is being illegally downloaded and distributed over a network, one can 'sniff' the traffic to know which portions are being downloaded and by whom -- the end points. And, possibly, stop the transaction (Difficult, but possible)

Just a wild guess folks. Drop in an email to if you have other thoughts on the same. I'm curious.

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