Avoid These Fee-based P2P clients/services. (Re-branding)
On the P2P scene, re-branding is regarded as a scam when certain stealth operating companies have cloned an ‘open source‘ brand and use advertisements that generally consist of deceptive search engine ads and inexpensive ‘google adsense’-style ads. In hopes of making money, they charge for “support” that is often just a copy of the wiki or other documentation from the original program’s website - all under the pretext of providing customer service. Combine all this with a slightly-modified GUI and *presto* - a new monetizing program is born - one that was completely free in the first place.
Here’s some common examples of re-branding:
At least eXeem is upfront about it now…you have to pay for it, and it’s disclosed right on the signup page. eXeem proudly displays “25,000,000 users on network” on their website - yeah, but 24,999,000 of them are using FREE BitTorrent software (like µTorrent, BitComet and Azureus). Plus, BitTorrent is not a network, it’s a P2P protocol - you’ll still have to visit torrent sites to get those torrents. But what about those other 1,000 users?? As the saying goes, “There’s a sucker born every minute”. Read what McAfee says about eXeem here.
eTomi is a clone of eMule - except this donkey isn’t free. However, it claims “Free eTomi Download” right on their homepage, and they even use the word ‘free’ in their URL - http://free-etomihq.com - ah, the powers of marketing! Just try to download it without cracking open your wallet - not possible. We find the part about a “Codec Pro Pack” for $10 particularly laughable. See below for their step 2 in downloading the free software:
When will people wake up? They’ll run this service for a year, maybe two, tops - until the new memberships dry up. Then they’ll restart the entire process over again under a different name to get fresh members who can’t connect to the old eTomi. For all we know, this is the same group of scam artists that brought us 360Share.
MP3Rocket is not a classical case of re-branding. They offer the program for free, and it works great. When using the free version, users are bombarded with opportunities to upgrade to the full version for $34.44. Unlike eTomi et al, at least MP3Rocket allows you to download it without busting out a credit card.
MusicDownloadPro.com (and its affiliate sites)
Another fine example of successful re-branding - with a flashy opening webpage as bait. This one stands out because when you try to leave - a page pops up asking if you want to talk to a representative (via chat) to further dangle that worm. You can bet that most of their resources go to manning that chat window when someone clicks ‘OK’ to talk with a representative. Read what McAfee has to say about this site. Here’s a look at the subscription page:
Absolutely useless when used as a P2P file sharing program. The “free” version doesn’t even allow for valuable searching, and the premium version is £25 (approx. $40 US) which we found excessively pricey when the trial service is not easily available. In order to access the free services, users need to collect points (this definitely smacks of advertising or self-promoting overtones) - we didn’t stick around long enough to test out our theory. For £25, we’d rather buy some CDs. Bye bye, Rapid Finder!
Well you have two options: Cough up 29 clams for the full version, or take the FREE one. We chose the free one. It claims that it can connect to 5 different P2P networks, but Trusty never did connect to Gnutella or FastTrack. It showed connection to OverNet, but wouldn’t generate any search results from that network. Searching was shoddy at best with highly disorganized results. We weren’t keen on the pop-ups that sprouted up every 5 minutes or so either.
A blatant rip-off of the popular Limewire program. Uses almost the same
identical source code and connects to the same network - Gnutella (G1).
(At last check, 360Share didn’t connect anymore - and wasn’t ever
free). Forums everywhere are chock-full of messages from angry 360
subscribers who paid for a “lifetime” membership only to find the
program doesn’t connect anymore - that was one short lifetime. A prime
example of why NOT to pay for a P2P program.
- UPDATE: (Dec./07) 360Share Pro has recently been re-launched, watch out!
Our final words on re-branding & P2P-for-Pay:
As already mentioned, the source for re-branded software is from already existing ‘open source‘ P2P software. This is done for two reasons - first, the hard work involved to create P2P software from scratch is already done. Second, the P2P network of users has already been established with a large fan-base who are already sharing files. This allows an immediate focus on marketing strategies for something that is already branded successful.
One upside to open source is that anyone (with a programming background) can look at its source code and easily verify if there is any adware/spyware within it. Therefore it’s safe to conclude that open source software is adware/spyware free, and of course free to use - for all general purposes, it’s public code. When someone comes along and re-brands it, it becomes proprietary to them (i.e. closed-source) so anything can be included - adware, spyware, third party addons, hidden agendas, tracking programs, usage-monitoring software, privacy-invasive software, trojans - just about anything (and you’ll never know). Not only does it cost money, but you may get more than you bargained for.
It’s fairly easy to validate this argument. One standout re-branding example is www.filesharingcenter.com - read what McAfee says about it here. We advise the use of McAfee’s SiteAdvisor to cross-reference potentially dubious websites.
Fee-based P2P software: (non re-branding)
Some software publishers opt to create their own P2P programs from the ground up. And whose to say they don’t have a right to charge for this software, when it is completely original? Well, while the software itself may be 100% original, the network it connects to is already in existence. And let’s be honest, there are only a handful of major networks that people are using to share files over - so most (if not all) new P2P software connects to a network that is already there, and already free. And those developers who are creating both the programs and the networks are not doing it for the same monetary reasons: it is for a belief in free information and sharing that drives them. That is why so many P2P programs are free in the first place. Money got involved after.
We’re not suggesting that you never pay for a P2P program - if you find one you love and it costs you, be our guest and purchase it. What we promote are the free alternatives, the unhampered originals. P2P file sharing was always free in the first place, even starting with [Napster](../../04/opennap-for-p2p-file-sharing/#napster “Napster - Still connecting and sharing”) in ‘99. Like everything else in the world and on the Internet, it is the almighty dollar that encumbers. Money and sharing are not synonymous.
Filesharefreak is not going to list all of the pay-to-use P2P programs - they are becoming more and more common all the time - there are new ones released every week. It would take an enormous amount of resources to keep up on it:
The bottom line is this: If you end up having to open your wallet in order to join a service or download P2P software, you’re on the wrong site.
I find it a little funny that you missed the Biggest one of the bunch. Usenext.