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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Where has all the traffic gone?

7 September 2011

Apparently "the volume of internet traffic coming into New Zealand has dropped sharply since new anti-piracy rules came into force", or so one of our daily newspapers has reported this morning.

A little further down the page in the same story however, Orcon CEO Scott Bartlett is quoted as saying "We've definitely seen an impact ... but we're only a few days in so I don't know if it's a trend.", so this might not be the story it claims to be.

Grumble grumble, bloody MSM, grumble grumble...

So is it true that the new provisions of S92A have had an immediate chilling effect on the dissemination of copyrighted material over the internet?

Well maybe it's just that we've all enjoyed a pleasant week with warm temperatures, fine weather and light winds that has gotten people away from their keyboards -- or maybe it is that dreaded S92A.

Who knows for sure?

However, even if the Three Strikes law is having an effect on the volume of traffic coming into NZ via P2P networks, I'm picking that it's already been replaced by a volley of USB drives, DVDs and portable hard-drives being passed from user to user at schools and workplaces around the nation.

In fact, since I first wrote about this, I've had probably a dozen or more emails from people who've all said pretty much the same thing: P2P is so last week, when I want anything, I just take a USB drive to work/school and bring it home loaded up with new stuff.

While one symptom of the illegal trade in copyrighted material may have been significantly reduced, the problem persists and, may in fact be growing at a faster rate than ever.

Why spend a day downloading a movie using a slow P2P connection when you can have it dumped onto a $30 USB drive in 30 seconds by a work/school-mate?

In a way, the industry might have actually shot themselves in the foot (yet again) by trying to put the brakes in P2P.

Now, instead of encountering the natural throttling that many ISPs were putting on P2P traffic, file-traders are swapping content at a rate that even the new UFB network can't hope to match.

I also think that Vikram Kumar has got it right when he says that the current dip in traffic will be only temporary. Once people realise that the cops aren't going to be breaking down their door at 4 in the morning just because they downloaded the latest episode from a new season of Big Bang Theory, they'll go back to their old ways -- albeit perhaps with the help of those proxy servers we all know about.

To be honest, if S92A has reduced the level of P2P traffic on the Net, I sure haven't noticed it. My evening speeds are as slow as ever they were -- bugger!

Remember the word "aardvarkrox" when you go to sign up for the new forums (yeah, I know I haven't customised it yet but bear with me ;-)

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