NBC Universal Patents Pirate-Hunting Tech

NBC Universal Patents Pirate-Hunting Tech

NBC Universal has filed a patent for a new technology designed to track and collect data on online pirates. The tech uses a high-volume file sharing swarms detection system to determine popular torrents and gather data on those downloading and sharing those files.

The patent filing, entitled “Early Detection of High Volume Peer-To-Peer swarms” [PDF], describes a system able to track high-volume file sharing swarms. Once a swarm hits a certain threshold, it will become a target for data collection.

“While the P2P infrastructure has many advantages, it also has led to abuses. Piracy of digital assets on peer-to-peer networks incurs losses by content owners estimated in billions of dollars annually,” the patent reads. In order to tackle these abuses, NBC Universal’s tech will be “a system that provides for early identification of high risk swarms to enable a more proactive stance towards anti-piracy efforts.”

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

The swarm detection system can also be used to help ISPs track P2P traffic to facilitate dynamic traffic shaping to reduce bandwidth and save money.

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

While the use of this technology to facilitate blocking or throttling torrent traffic seems to fly in the face of net neutrality, FFC rules in the US do allow ISPs to shape traffic so long as that traffic is being used for illegal means, which includes downloading copyright infringing materials. Since NBC Universal owns Comcast, expect the ISP to become the first adopter of this technology.


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