Saturday, October 27, 2007

Nokia's file sharing platform MOSH is full of illegal contents

Nokia has a serious problem with software piracy, but at least they are trying to solve it. Some days ago the company announced SEEK, a new search function for Nokia's file sharing platform MOSH which had been launched in August. MOSH exists as a small website for mobile phones and in a bigger version for computers. Every subscribed user can upload files and downloads even work without subscription.

Although new users have to give their personal mobile phone numbers to subscribe, MOSH is full of pirated software. For instance the program VirtualRadio for Nokia s60 3rd edition costs US $20.50 when you buy it from the company's website. At MOSH you just have to look up its name in the internal search engine. Within seconds you find the program and then you can send a free SMS on Nokia's cost with a direct download link to your cell phone. After the installation the software works without any restriction, although the MOSH user paid nothing.

Pirated software now much easier to find?

This search for pirated software, and of course also for legal contents, could now become much easier: SEEK allows MOSH users to make requests for content they crave and the community can then respond with suggestions or custom created content. "SEEK allows the rapidly growing, and global, MOSH community to connect with one another and to obtain content not yet available", says the press release. Instead of "content not yet available" they could also have written "in others places only available for cash".

Yet five weeks ago Jan Rezab, CEO of Redboss (one of the top distributors and developers of mobile games in the Czech Republic), told in his blog told that "the only problem is, that people are sharing free, illegal mobile games on the site. Games from EA, THQ, Fishlabs, and many companies are available on MOSH". I tried to verify that and found for instance the VirtualRadio software and many games. Of course Nokia doesn't encourage this kind of use. Instead they imagine that users share self created contents like a personal "video of a specific dive in the Maldives".

"MOSH has a strong focus on responding to the needs of its community of users and feedback from the community is the motivation for SEEK", says Lee Epting, Vice President, Forum Nokia. "We have always focused on MOSH being a service created for, and shaped by, users. Seeing users request content from one another, as well as the desire for community discussion, forms the foundation of SEEK." His words sound a little bit sarcastic to me, taking into account that many users take MOSH as a free one stop shop for pirated software.

Officially launching on December 14, an exclusive demo of SEEK could be seen at CTIA Wireless in San Francisco October 23rd through October 25th. MOSH, short for mobilize and share, has seen more than 6 million downloads since its beta launch on 9th August. Hopefully these weren't all pirated software downloads.

Hunt for piracy with fingerprints

After I wrote a short article about SEEK and the illegal content on MOSH for Areamobile, I soon got a phone call from Finland. On the phone was James Waterworth, Communications Manager Technology at Nokia. He said that the piracy problem is high on MOSH's agenda and should be solved soon.

For copyright protected music and movies they already have an automatic solution: MOSH checks the digital fingerprint of the file and prevents the upload if it's copyright protected. For that Nokia could use existing filter software that already had been used in similar ways at Youtube or Flickr. "Try to upload a song by Madonna!", Waterworth told me. But I didn't do so because I don't want to get in trouble. That's also the reason why I don't post any direct link to illegal MOSH contents in this blog post. Look for yourself, dear reader! Yet I wonder why still I can find Madonna's song "Hung up" at MOSH.

Much more difficult is it for Nokia to filter illegal software. There was no existing solution for cell phone programs, so Nokia now has to develop their own. In some weeks, Waterworth says, pirated software will be detected automatically at MOSH. Nokia will check against a blacklist from software companies which contains every piece of software they don't want to see for a free download at MOSH.

Until then Nokia asks users to report copyright infringements and illegal contents to the moderators who monitor MOSH day and night. They will delete them by hand. The responsible for the illegal upload will be warned and if he does it again his account will be canceled.

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