SpaceX detects torrenting over its Starlink satellite network, issues piracy warning

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Space Exploration Technologies, the Elon Musk company better known as SpaceX, has been building a constellation of satellites for the past several years, called Starlink; to provide universal broadband service worldwide.  It passed the 1,000 satellite mark this year and is in commercial service.  Amazon is launching a competing network of more than 3,000 satellites, called Project Kuiper.

A Starlink user recently received a warning generated by Starlink: “Downloading copyrighted materials without a license may lead to suspension or termination of your service, and put you at risk of legal action by the content owner.”

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Screenshot taken by Reddit user Substrate97 (Source: PC Mag)

Apparently, this user had been testing torrents over Starlink for two months to “see what would happen.”  But as soon as the user tried to torrent a copyrighted program from a major video producer, SpaceX detected it and issued the warning.

Read the full article via PC Magazine

Why it matters

Kudos to SpaceX (and the individual who thought of putting it in place in anticipation) for having the presence of mind to set up piracy detection.  Between the lines, this might also tell us that SpaceX is collaborating with major media companies to enable monitoring for content that carries forensic watermarking; and that this user’s initial test content wasn’t watermarked and therefore was not detected.

As a nascent service, in the emerging category of satellite-based Internet access, Starlink is still in its ‘early adopter’ phase, which makes it more likely to attract ‘innovative’ users who know that they can’t distribute stolen content or services over terrestrial-based services, and give it a try.

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