P2P growth slowing as infringement goes deeper undercover

Logo RapidShareLeipzig, Germany-based deep packet inspection (DPI) provider Ipoque has released the first preliminary results from its 2008 Internet traffic study, and they confirm what we've known for some time: P2P traffic is shrinking as a percentage of total Internet traffic. Good news for TV and movie studios? Possibly, but the use of direct download links (DDL) is soaring, and if you think DDL services like RapidShare are used only to swap lolcats... then I have a fail whale for you.

While the data is still being analyzed, initial results from Ipoque show strong growth in both web streaming and DDL. With YouTube cracking down on copyright infringement in a big way and and legal streaming services like Hulu and Veoh doing big business, the rise in web streaming looks to be a good sign for video content owners.

But the rise in DDL traffic, which provides one-click access to files stored at hosting services, indicates that video sharing is simultaneously moving further underground.

DDL now accounts for up to 30 percent of all traffic from "standard protocols" like HTTP and SMTP. Ipoque claims that the most popular DDL host, RapidShare, alone "generates half of the DDL traffic and therefore up to 5 percent of all web traffic in some regions."

While it's easy for DPI gear to block such traffic based on the provider, this would also block all legitimate traffic emanating from DDL providers and would be about the least neutral thing it's possible to imagine. Unlike with P2P traffic, investigators can't easily grab the IP addresses of those downloading DDL files, and they can't grab copies of the files themselves in order to look for copyright infringement.

P2P, despite the ire directed against it by content owners, at least allows them a window into online behavior. DDL services close the window and plaster over it, and only a sledgehammer from a subpoena (or the cooperation of an ISP) can open it back up.

This isn't to say that P2P can't still clog the tubes like a hairball. In Southern Europe, one region for which the data analysis is almost done, Ipoque found that P2P still accounts for 54 percent of all Internet traffic. Streaming protocols account for another 10 percent. Together, the video heavy protocols dwarf web surfing, which is only 23 percent of the total traffic.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: BitTorrent, P2P

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