tech - hawg
Thursday, October 06, 2005
  HBO vs BitTorrent
Looks like HBO has something grand riding on the success of their new show "Rome". So much so that they've taking to poisoning torrent downloads by offering up fake clients.
In addition to an older tactic of offering bogus downloads that never complete, HBO is now obstructing the downloads offered by other people. BitTorrent downloads are peer-to-peer, but the peers are introduced to each other by a tracker ("you're looking for Rome Season 1 Episode 2, talk to"). HBO runs peers that tell the tracker they have all the chunks of the show, but then send garbage data when a downloader requests a chunk. The downloading client can detect that it's garbage and will try another peer for the chunk, but the end result is that it takes much much longer to download shows.

The sad thing is, this tactic is pretty effective and damn annoying (not that I've ever downloaded anything of questionable legal content...ever). The "good" thing is that torrent tracker software will most likely be able to detect these spam clients and the bad data they send out, making the system that much more effective. In a way you could kind of thank HBO for forcing that next step in innovation.
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