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NBC Universal Gets Anti-Piracy Patent

11 Jul, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel

NBC Universal has quietly obtained a copyright to technology that could help it thwart piracy of content streamed over the Internet.

Specifically, U.S. Patent 9386089 (“Early Detection of High Volume Peer-To-Peer Swarms”) targets high-volume file sharing of pirated content by users on peer-to-peer networks such as BitTorrent.

The technology, which was submitted by researchers to USPTO office in 2009 on behalf of NBC Universal, would alert ISPs and websites about possible illegal activity of copyrighted material, such as a movie or TV show.

Typically, pirates use P2P networks to offer mass access to copyrighted material, which is often difficult by authorities to control and contain. In addition, large-scale pirating of content can overwhelm ISPs. These issues cause billions in damages to all parties affected, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.

“Early detection provides for enhanced anti-piracy efforts, improved allocation of network resources, and better business decision-making,” read the patent filing.

The technology could also be used by ISPs to reduce streaming costs during peak usage sessions by rerouting file traffic.

“The network provider may proceed to diminish or cap network resources once some limit of data activity is met. In certain aspects, the processing for the high-risk swarms also indicates the high volume swarms and allows for traffic shaping for the ISPs,” read the filing.

Online piracy of Hollywood movies and TV shows remains a major problem. In Eastern Europe, Romania’s National Audiovisual Council (CNA) has since 2012 targeted more than 40 websites allegedly distributing stolen movies.

Indeed, websites 990.ro and Vplay.ro have been shuttered — the former linked to FastLoad.ro, reportedly the largest P2P network in Romania.

Separately, Kim Dotcom, the controversial German Internet entrepreneur, has tweeted a planned 2017 return of Megaupload.com, his shuttered file-sharing network that at its peak reportedly catered to more than 50 million users.

Studios 20th Century Fox Film Corp., Disney Enterprises, Paramount Pictures Corp., Universal City Studios Productions, Columbia Pictures Industries, and Warner Bros. Entertainment, in 2014 filed a lawsuit against Megaupload, alleging Dotcom and others facilitated, encouraged, and profited from copyright infringement of movies and television shows.

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