Miro Internet TV Blog - Archive for February, 2008

FCC Hearing Monday in Boston: Future of the Internet

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

This Monday, February 25th
11 AM – 4 PM
Ames Courtroom, Austin Hall, Harvard Law School
1515 Mass Ave.

If you’re in Boston, come and show your support for free speech!

The Federal Communications Commission will be holding a rare public hearing regarding their investigations into internet companies like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon. All of these companies have been caught filtering their customers’ internet and/or text message traffic.

Recently, Comcast has been aggressively filtering the Bittorrent protocol. This activity really hurts an organization like Democracy Now!, because they rely on the low cost of peer to peer file sharing to distribute their news program in high-resolution. Comcast, as a cable provider, has a financial incentive to push competition off their network.

More importantly, it’s not just Bittorrent that is at stake — if we let Comcast and other internet providers get away with this behavior, it opens the door to lots of other anti-competitive tactics. This decision will be central in deciding whether we end up with an internet that is open and democratic, or one that is closed and controlled by a few massive corporations.

We are working with Free Press (they run the savetheinternet.com) to organize technical demonstrations. Free Press will also be shooting video testimonials from the general public, which will be submitted to the FCC as formal comments.

If you’re in the Boston area, we would LOVE to have you drop by, even if you can’t stay long. Make sure you find me and say hi!

For more information, including a more detailed agenda, please visit http://www.savetheinternet.com/=boston.

Net Neutrality Fight Heats Up

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

The fight for net neutrality is intensifying with the recent confirmation that Comcast and other internet providers are restricting BitTorrent traffic. ‘Net neutrality’ is the basic principal that all traffic on the internet should be transmitted equally. Unfortunately, corporations like Comcast believe that they should be able to slow down or block certain types of traffic while accelerating other types (including their own).

Comcast’s Anti-Competitive Traffic Blocking

We recently participated in a joint press event with Vuze and BitTorrent, Inc– our products are all directly threatened by the filtering that Comcast is engaging in. In addition to restricting free speech, when Comcast blocks BitTorrent it blocks competition. Comcast isn’t just a provider of internet service, they are, of course, most known as a cable television provider. When they block BitTorrent services like Miro, they are blocking our ability to compete with their video services. It’s anti-competitive, pure and simple.

Comcast claims that this blocking is essential to prevent their network from being overwhelmed by a small number of users who hog bandwidth. But rather than addressing bandwidth usage, they choose to block specific services. Imagine a Comcast customer who sucks up a disproportionate share of bandwidth by buying lots of Comcast brand on-demand video. What’s the likelihood that Comcast will start to block their own service?

Advocacy for Net Neutrality Rules

There is hope in this fight. Free Press is a fantastic non-profit organization that fights for media access. They run the Save the Internet Campaign, the leading voice for Net Neutrality. We have joined them along with our friends at Public Knowledge, Consumers Union (Consumer Reports), and other groups to file comments (pdf here) with the FCC that ask for public-interest minded rules to govern network management. More on Comcast and neutrality from Free Press.

There’s also a new bill in Congress that would greatly advance the cause of neutrality: Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2008 . Call your representatives.

PCF does not and cannot endorse political candidates, but it’s also a very positive sign that Barack Obama, the Democratic frontrunner, has a very strong position in favor of net neutrality.

The Blocking and Evasion Arms Race

Meanwhile, there’s a technology battle raging. BitTorrent, Inc. has also recently proposed a new standard that would strengthen bittorrent encryption. Miro already supports a basic level of encryption, which helps reduce the extent to which service providers can block BitTorrent traffic. This new standard would make evasion of BitTorrent blocking even more effective. But this is a needless arms race. There is every reason– to protect both free speech and commercial innovation– to have a strong net neutrality law.

Groklaw Interview

Friday, February 8th, 2008

I did an interview with Groklaw recently that got posted today. It touches on a lot of issues that drive the creation of Miro and make our project different than proprietary competitors: open-source, eliminating gatekeepers, net neutrality, DRM, and others.

Groklaw interview with Nicholas Reville

Spread Miro European Tour

Monday, February 4th, 2008

Know someone in Europe we should meet with? Let us know!

PCF’s Holmes Wilson will be in Europe in late February through early April meeting with people about Miro. He’ll be passing through several cities, attending some excellent conferences, and wants to meet with as many cool people and projects as possible.

The tentative itinerary is:

Brussels, February 22-23
Paris, February 24-?
London, March 9-16
Geneva, March 17-18
Rome, March 18-?
Berlin, April 1-5

Let us know if you’re in any of these places and would like to arrange a meet up. Conferences we’ll be attending include FOSDEM in Brussels, OKcon in London, and Re:publica in Berlin. There’s some open time in our itinerary, so feel free to suggest destinations.

This trip has a lot to do with Miro co-branded players. There’s a huge Miro user-base in Europe. So we’d like to get as many people and organizations as possible using Miro as part of their online video approach. Got ideas about this? Email holmes – at – pculture.org

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