Safe P2Ping
July 26, 2005 4:09 PM   Subscribe

What sort of protection do you use when you use p2p programs?

If you ever download things that the various IP cartels don't want you to, how do you protect yourself? Do you use some sort of proxy or an application that blocks incoming IP bozos, or what?
Please refrain from lecturing me on the legality / morality / ethics / viruses of p2p, etc. The question is: if you do it, how safe are you?
posted by signal to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
your never really safe. Non public traqckers are your best best, next to updated riaa/mpaa ip tables.
posted by Dean Keaton at 4:11 PM on July 26, 2005

best bet
posted by Dean Keaton at 4:12 PM on July 26, 2005

I use the Safepeer plugin for Azureus
posted by monkeyman at 4:18 PM on July 26, 2005

There's a difference between downloading and uploading. To my knowledge, people haven't been sued for being caught downloading files - it's the sharing [uploading to others] that the RIAA lawsuits have focused on. The only truly safe answer, I'd think, is to go through all of your files, find out which albums were produced on RIAA labels, and not share those albums. That, or not share at all, or share only with a closed group of friends, though if you don't share freely you may find other people refusing to share with you. Picking only certain artists/albums to share may or may not be possible on your client. Still not technically licit, of course, but lawsuit-wise, it sounds like you could do that and be safe. For now. Maybe.
posted by ubersturm at 4:34 PM on July 26, 2005

Azureus + SafePeer is sufficient.

Your only other option is to trade on a private network, such as MUTE.
posted by majick at 5:18 PM on July 26, 2005

IMHO there are things you can do to shield you but nothing you can do to be absolutely safe. This should be something that you must be willing to accept in order to partake.

The first general category of things all center around proxies. Most "hide your identity" programs and web sites are all more or less the same idea: find and use a proxy. This is usually okay for surfing websites anonymously but for bulk transfer, they are usually slow as hell and unreliable. It's one of those tragedy of the commons things: if there were lots of fast and anonymous proxies that did exist and were reliable, then people would flock to them and overload them, and they would go away or turn unreliable. Plus, generally when you do something like this you are probably committing a computer crime of some form because the vast majority of open proxies out there are due to misconfigurations, and their owners did not intend for you to use them. There are massive amounts of programs and sites dedicated to scanning and listing these. I recommend you stay away.

THe second major category is blocklists. Protowall, Safepeer, and Peerguardian are all examples of this sort of thing. I recommend that you don't waste your time here. To work successfully these methods all require something that is not generally possible to achieve: a comprehensive and correct list of IP addresses to block. You WILL suffer false positives -- things that are blocked that shouldn't be. Plus the idea that you can just list potential sources of "bad guys" is ridiculous. The people that are out there scanning for infringement are not idiots, they won't do it from netblocks labeled "copyright infringement research inc." They could rent servers or colo from thousands of network data centers and there would be no indication whatsoever from the whois information. So I really recommend that you don't put much faith in this method at all. There are a lot of clueless people that think they are impenetrable because they installed Safepeer, and yet if you go to the forums of any popular P2P program you will see dozens and dozens of "I got a letter from my ISP but I was usuing (stupid blocklist program de jour)".

The final category is the one that actually works. That is called common sense. This mainly amounts to not doing things that get you sued. For example, don't go anywhere near the Fasttrack network (Kazaa and knockoffs) since they are heavily monitored. Be careful about downloading "hot" things like movies that were just released in theaters. Prefer applications like bittorrent that focus on a single thing at a time (album, movie, whatever) over things like fasttrack or ed2k that tend to be more of the "share your whole hard drive" model. Prefer sites that have some kind of membership requirement, i.e. a vetted system. But be aware of the golden rule, "anything you can do, so can they." This means that any service/program/system that is open to the general public is just as accessible to people that are looking to catch infringement as it is accessible to you. No amount of fancy encryption or other means will ever change this -- if you can do it so can they. The safest possible means of sharing files is in a closed system, where you have to know someone before being allowed in.

There are also some programs like Freenet and Tor that attempt to hide your identity. THe problem here is that they generally make design decisions to accomplish this that make the service very slow or hard to use. In the case of Freenet, it is very hard to find anyone's identity, but it's also very slow and can be frustrating. In general these "anonymous p2p" networks are still in the incubation stage, and you won't find them very useful for bulk file transfers. A good site with information about them is run by a friend of mine at
posted by Rhomboid at 5:29 PM on July 26, 2005

A Canadian passport affords me excellent protection.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 5:41 PM on July 26, 2005

Well, Count Ziggurat, just for a little while. Too bad we didn't boot out the bastards the other month when we had the chance, eh? /me laughs at Americans and their "Liberal Media" sayings. LOL!

BTW: The proper answer to this is: USENET. Yeah, it's not peer to peer, but we know what you REALLY mean by P2P (pirate to pirate, no? be serious here...)
posted by shepd at 9:25 PM on July 26, 2005

shepd: I am aware of this "Usenet" you speak of, (particularly a channel whose name starts with "book" and ends with "z") but have never used it for larger files, as it tends to drop the files halfway through. What client do you use?
Thanks all for the answers, especially Rhomboid.
posted by signal at 10:25 PM on July 26, 2005

If you happen to have access to a lot of people running iTunes on a local subnet (for example, you have a computer plugged into a dorm or campus network), OurTunes (java) uses the iTunes sharing as a sort of P2P. You can copy anything you want from any non-passworded iTunes share to your own computer. I don't know how it handles protected AAC, but the rest of it comes through fine as far as I've seen. As you aren't using a tracker of any sort, there's nothing for the RIAA to track. The other people you are leeching from are legally putting their own music out there in read-only mode, and you're circumventing that, so they aren't at risk from your actions, as they haven't done anything wrong.

Doesn't help with non-music (for now), and it isn't very useful if you aren't connected to a large network, but it can be handy.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:27 AM on July 27, 2005

I use Peer Gaurdian in conjunction with Azureus but as Rhomboid says it is ultimately pointless. It's kind of interesting to see what kind of networks are on the hot trackers, makes one think about what kind of data is being collected. Of course you can sit there and assume you're untouchable watching the blacklisted ip's scroll by, but again as Rhomboid said, if they were really dedicated about nailing you it would have happened one way or another. I tend to actually stray away from sites you have to register for that maintain statistics (demonoid, etc), that seems like the least ideal situation. Other than that, I just use BitTorrent and stay the hell away from any 'kazaa' like application. How safe am I? Not very. As they say, abstinence is the only guarantee.
posted by prostyle at 6:39 AM on July 27, 2005

Woops, re:Shepd and USENET: for some reason I read "IRC".
My ISP has a fairly shitty list of usenet groups, and I have never found an entire file I wanted on them. Are there any (free) public newservers that actually carry stuff?
posted by signal at 7:07 AM on July 27, 2005

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