Optimum Online Says Don't Upload Files...Or Else.

By Richard Menta 12/21/02

I find it interesting that one of the biggest benefactors of file trading on the Net want to now ban it from their networks. I'm talking about the broadband providers; the folks who tried to sell us their services based on the ability to access web pages two seconds faster, but switched tactics when that reason wasn't compelling enough for people. The compelling reason they eventually turned to in their ads and promotions was the accessibility of music on the Net.

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Now that cable company Optimum Online has hooked many users to their service - and since as a cable company that gives them a regional monopoly on cable Net access as it does on for TV transmissions - they want to take away the activity they used to lure users away from AOL and modem-based Web surfing.

This letter was sent out to Optimum Online Subscribers on Wednesday December 18:

Subject: Email to Optimum Online Customers Regarding Bandwidth Abuse

Dear Optimum Online Subscriber:

You may be running a server from you computer and not even know it.

If you use any of the peer-to-peer file services listed below without disabling the file sharing option, the entire Internet can access the files on your hard drive. In addition, use of these services can lead to network problems that may result in your upstream speed being temporarily reduced to control this abuse of service.

Aimster, KaZaA, iMesh, Audiogalaxy, eDonkey2000, NeoModus, BearShare, Gnotella, Gnucleus, GTK-Gnutella, LimeWire, Mactella, Morpheus, Phex, Qtella, Shareaza, SwapNut, XoLoX

Don't compromise your privacy or the performance of your high-speed connection.

See http://security.uchicago.edu/peer-to-peer/no_fileshare.shtml for easy instructions on how to disable file sharing for the peer-to-peer programs listed above. You and other subscribers can then continue to enjoy Internet services at peak performance speeds. And you'll steer clear of violating the restriction against running servers (see Optimum Online Residential Terms of Service: http://www.optonline.net/tos).

For further protection and optimum performance, we also recommend all Internet users maintain firewall and antivirus software. See http://wwwl.my-etrust.com/cvision/ for a very special offer exclusive to Optimum Online subscribers.

We want you to stay online and stay protected while enjoying the best performance of Optimum Online high-speed Internet access.

Thank you for being a valued Optimum Online customer.

Your Optimum Online Team

Optimum Online is not incorrect in saying that there is a security problem with using P2P services, there is a considerable one. But that is not the reason that they are sending out these emails.

If it were it would not include an ultimatum based on bandwidth usage or "abuse" as they call it.

" use of these services can lead to network problems that may result in your upstream speed being temporarily reduced to control this abuse of service."

So they are going to control your access by reducing the upstream speed you are paying for. You can download all you want, but don't share too much from your own collection. At what point where it constitues abuse, I don't know. The fact that Optimum is giving directions on how to completely disable uploading on your client should give you a clear clue. An outright ban it seems.

Hilary Rosen, CEO of the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) once said that she had no problem with people downloading tunes, it was uploading them that was wrong. That was a comment only a lawyer could parse, but one that in this letter Optimum Online seems to want to leverage.

Optimum doesn't say to not run the program, just don't share any of the songs already on your hard drive. They then tell you how to do just that for each individual P2P service. Of course, if every file trader did this, there would be no file trading.

Is Optimum betting that their heaviest bandwidth users will take it, just like they take all of the price hikes they force on users of their general TV service? Maybe they think they have you hooked like a heroin addict, because if you don't use them there are limited options to who you can turn to. They may be right. Few broadband users want to give up fast Net access.

You don't like it? Go back to AOL and a 56K modem they may tell you.

Before it gets to that, you need to tell them.


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