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Finnish police raid BitTorrent site
December 15, 2004 2:32 AM   Subscribe

Finnish police raid BitTorrent site "Around 30 volunteers who helped moderate the site were also arrested....MPAA is co-operating in criminal investigations with police in Finland, the Netherlands and France, so it is reasonable to infer that reports of raids in more European countries are likely to surface shortly." I was about to look into using BitTorrent given the positive feedback - maybe I should wait.
posted by Voyageman (82 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I would like someone to suggest what Finnish or European law the site can be accused of breaking, given that torrent files contain no copyrighted material.

They are the legal equivalent of someone saying "If you want to get such-and-such an item, you can do so at that place across the road. Whether you're legally allowed to do so is your responsibility, I'm just telling you how to get it." Right?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 2:36 AM on December 15, 2004


I think Finnreactor hosted its own trackers rather than just the torrent files as well, and it's this that the MPAA are concentrating on. The tracker is the central distribution point for the torrent - no tracker, no torrent. No, it doesn't hold a copy of the file but all the action against BitTorrent yesterday was against tracker sites. Youceff was also raided, along with some other eDonkey hash sites.
posted by humuhumu at 2:41 AM on December 15, 2004


By the way, if you want some good hash I hear The Ocelot Bar in Helsinki is the place to go. OH SHIT SWAT TEAM!
posted by Pretty_Generic at 2:41 AM on December 15, 2004


Unless I've misunderstood everything terribly, the tracker doesn't even transfer a copy of the file, let alone hold it. It just tells people where to get the file. I don't see how a tracker is any different to the analogy I've given.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 2:44 AM on December 15, 2004


Without the tracker, there is no torrent. It can be compared to the central server for the single file being transferred - it organises the whole download and puts you in touch with other people who have the file. No, it doesn't transfer the file itself but as far as the entertainment companies are concerned, tracker = central server = Napster, and they won against Napster, so that's the basis on which they proceed against BitTorrent.
posted by humuhumu at 2:55 AM on December 15, 2004


Please, please, please leave suprnova alone!

And yes, as P_G notes, these sites are the sort of thing the INDUCE Act wanted to target; facilitating piracy, without actually storing any pirated materials themselves. Even hosting trackers and torrent files - nothing in either is copyrighted material, and none of the data the trackers handle is, either. Regardless of how vital the tracker is to bittorrent technology, legally speaking, things are rather grey. This'd be more clearcut so if this was happening in the USA, but it's not.
posted by mek at 2:58 AM on December 15, 2004


And Voyageman, hop on the BT bandwagon. ~2/3 of all web traffic is BT. And for a damn good reason. (but what % is porn?)
posted by mek at 2:59 AM on December 15, 2004


geez it is like trying to sue a paper manufacturer for counterfeit bills.

They are targeting servers. My limited understanding is that the torrent is the key to locating and distributing the file among users, the tracker is the source of the file distribution. It also can track upload/download ratios, what the file is doing currently, keep track of IP's etc (or what humuhumu said)

That is the great debate currently. MPAA, RIAA et al are arguing the mere fact you provide a service that can be used for illegal activity should be stopped. I'm in agreement with you - I don't think it is legitimate.

on preview: they won against napster but they lost round one with grokster.

I dunno what this will mean for Europeans. Up here the initial sue-em-all campaign fell flat on its face and the Judge likened file sharing applications to photocopiers in libraries in his decision.

What pisses me off is all the police agencies being used for alleged copyright violations.
posted by squeak at 3:00 AM on December 15, 2004


Don't know if everyone's aware of this or not, but the folks at SuprNova have been working on a distributed system for delivering the .torrent file listings. They saw the writing on the wall a while ago, and apparently betas of the new software are very promising. The system is called Exeem.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:05 AM on December 15, 2004


Without the tracker, there is no torrent.

Without the post office, there is no mail fraud.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:06 AM on December 15, 2004


More about Exeen:
One of the great resolutions to depending on centralized servers has been decentralization. Initiated by NullSoft's Gnutella, decentralized P2P networks have revolutionized file-sharing by making them impervious to "pulling the plug" as was Napster's and Scour's fate. This has long been a fear of many BitTorrent fans - pull the Tracker plug and there goes a portion of the network. However, it appears that SuprNova.org has found a solution to this problem. Meet Exeem.

Exeem is a new file-sharing application being developed by the folks at SuprNova.org. Exeem is a decentralized BitTorrent network that basically makes everyone a Tracker. Individuals will share Torrents, and seed shared files to the network. At this time, details and the full potential of this project are being kept very quiet. However it appears this P2P application will completely replace SuprNova.org; no more web mirrors, no more bottle necks and no more slow downs.

Exeem will marry the best features of a decentralized network, the easy searchability of an indexing server and the swarming powers of the BitTorrent network into one program. Currently, the network is in beta testing and already has 5,000 users (the beta testing is closed.) Once this program goes public, its potential is enormous.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:09 AM on December 15, 2004


legally speaking, things are rather grey

I honestly don't see it that way. I cannot imagine the wording of a Finnish or European law under which BitTorrent trackers would be illegal, under any circumstances. The only things they distribute are IP addresses.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:09 AM on December 15, 2004


Whoops... Exeem.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:09 AM on December 15, 2004


C_D: right, I knew that, I'm beta testing. *hits self on forehead*
posted by mek at 3:17 AM on December 15, 2004


Police here have recently been looking around [self-link, careful] for sloncek (means little elephant) the creator of SuprNova. A local magazine even got in on the act and published a story about what high school in Ljubljana he goes to and what his initials are. Since then, people have been wondering what, if anything, will happen.
posted by Ljubljana at 3:20 AM on December 15, 2004


Without the post office, there is no mail fraud.

well that is their whole point ;)

Make p2p applications illegal and then there is no more illegal filesharing. But this is a very limited view in my mind - are they going to go after email applications because people use usenet? Are they going to go after IM services like msn and Y!? Are they going to go after the http protocol? Close down the net?
posted by squeak at 3:21 AM on December 15, 2004


well that is their whole point ;)

Who are "they"? What law, rather than sentiment, do the police think they are enforcing? Anyone?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:25 AM on December 15, 2004


I like free shit as much as the next guy, but I can't agree with you guys on this concept of technical legality. It's certainly against the spirit, if not the letter, of copyright law. Pretending that thepiratebay.org had no idea what it was "hosting" is absurd.

I think the real fights are for legitimate protection of fair use. Fighting on a basis of legal technicalities simply encourages those loopholes to be closed.
posted by mosch at 3:28 AM on December 15, 2004


Personally I like legal technicalities such as "whether someone has commited a crime or not". If we can prosecute people for being against the "spirit" of the law, rather than breaking it, we're talking about the most slavishly lubricated of Orwellian slopes.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:33 AM on December 15, 2004


Hmm... apparently The Pirate Bay is still up, so I officially have no clue which site was busted.
posted by mosch at 3:33 AM on December 15, 2004


People, people. The issue here is that people cause crimes and cause up to 99.9% of all protection law infringements. What we need to do is fix the problem at the source, no more people!
posted by TwelveTwo at 3:33 AM on December 15, 2004


I'm not an expert in Finnish copyright law, so I don't know whether a crime was committed or not. If not, I certainly hope that they get off on the technicality, and receive reparations.

This doesn't change the fact that I believe a fight for fair use is extremely important in the long run.
posted by mosch at 3:37 AM on December 15, 2004


And Voyageman, hop on the BT bandwagon. ~2/3 of all web traffic is BT. And for a damn good reason. (but what % is porn?)
*Cough* I call bollocks. First of all, only the downloading of the tracker is web traffic, the rest isn't web traffic, though it is internet traffic. Secondly, bit torrent is growing but it's using nowhere near the traffic of the big players. (HTTP, FTP,NNTP, and even little old SMTP)
posted by fvw at 3:39 AM on December 15, 2004


I don't begrudge the RIAA and the MPAA their right to go after file-sharing, but you'd think eventually they'd notice that it doesn't seem to work.

I mean, they did a great job of taking down Napster. Just fantastic. A quality takedown. And within months, Kazaa is a household name, with its far faster, more efficient sharing, and with software and cinema becoming even more frequently shared than music. They do everything in their power to stop Kazaa, and manage to cripple it significantly. So the people move on to BitTorrent, leaving a buggy system designed for the sampling of single music files in favor of a sleek new one that specializes in bulk piracy, designed for downloading entire discographies or the entire runs of TV series.

Adversity is the true mother of invention. Every time they stamp out a form of file-sharing, they're just speeding up the development and adoption of a new piece of software that will make their lives miserable. We're like cockroaches. Cockroaches that don't want to pay fifteen bucks to see Blade 3.
posted by Simon! at 3:44 AM on December 15, 2004


I like free shit as much as the next guy, but I can't agree with you guys on this concept of technical legality.

Well, if you really want to get "big picture" about it, you could argue that the practical consequences of copyright violation are increased revenue for the MP/RIAA. To wit:
Even high levels of file-swapping seemed to translate into an effect on album sales that was "statistically indistinguishable from zero," they wrote.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:44 AM on December 15, 2004


C_D: right, I knew that, I'm beta testing.

Hey, mek, I don't want to get you in trouble and have your license revoked, but if you can answer me one question I'd really appreciate it:

How in the heck does decentralized 'torrent stop what effectively killed Kazaa -- that is, MP/RIAA planted fakes? I'm guessing that the "big name" release groups could distribute checksums of some kind to ensure the torrent is legit, but I'm curious as to how it would be implemented.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:48 AM on December 15, 2004


(Damn, three posts in a row. Sorry, folks)

One more question: I've heard rumors that there is a voting system in place, a-la Slashdot's comments system, but this doesn't stop the MP/RIAA from just voting "5 - I highly recommend this trojan pirated movie".
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:50 AM on December 15, 2004


I can't wait for the general public in China to get decent broadband. I mean, Communism in action, baby!
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:58 AM on December 15, 2004


"they" = RIAA, MPAA, CRIA (our version of RIAA) BSA, BPI (UK version of RIAA) etc etc all non profit groups created by the music industry/movie industry. What law? Typically copyright acts in each country. I think I know what your driving at Pretty_Generic - the problem is they have the lobbying power and use it very effectively. I've noticed that they also use the same formula in different counties (they are oh so predictable)

To expand on "legalities" in Canada CRIA applied to the Copyright Board to have levies applied to recording media (CDR's etc - now extended to mp3 players like the iPod) as compensation for piracy. In exchange Canadians were allowed to copy music. CRIA did this. CRIA now claims this is unfair and they aren't being properly compensated but consider this from Mario Bouchard (who works for Copyright Board of Canada):

'Richard Pfohl (CRIA lawyer) says the recording industry has lost 1/2 Billion in the last five years. Assuming this is true what he is refering to is the manufacturers suggested retail price on a CD. The Copyright Board determined that there is $2.25 in copyright on each CD. If you boil down that $450 Billion you get $50 Million in lost copyright. The copyright board has collected $30 Million a year.'
(from a transcript of a conference on file sharing held recently)

They are actually being compensated very well TYVM :) Canada isn't the only country that uses levies to compensate the industry. So is it really illegal considering they are being compensated?

Taking it further back in March CRIAA lost its case against 29 file sharers. The judges ruling effectively made it completely legal to share files in Canada.

sorry for the slight derail.
posted by squeak at 4:18 AM on December 15, 2004


It's very difficult to see how Exeem will play out with a larger userbase, as the current small sample of beta testers only serves to test functionality. However, I don't think the problem you note, C_D, will be as threatening to Exeem, as it functions much more like suprnova.org already does - only one or two "branded" torrents are swapped around. Each host does not have their own torrent file - the trackers are decentralized, but the torrents remain standardized. (How? It's magic!) Additionally, there are added features, such as comment threads which append to the torrent file, and are pulled up alongside it in search results.

I haven't played with the most recent versions yet - those forums are down way too often - so I can't confirm or deny this voting system. But agreed, it would not help any more than Kazaa's "Excellent" tag did; but again, since you download by torrent and not by host, it's not as big of an issue as it was for Kazaa.
posted by mek at 4:18 AM on December 15, 2004


Without the post office, there is no mail fraud.

I'm very sympathetic to file sharing and very disturbed by trends in copyright law, but I just don't think this analogy holds.

The first analogy -- "I can't perform that illegal service for you here, but they can across the street" -- seems to me to be accurate. That's not what the Post Office does, though. The Post Office basically assumes the legality of what you're doing, because they tell you that you have to obey the law.

Now, I suppose you could redesign BitTorrent to include a facile disclaimer, but everyone would know it was a sop to the authorities. US Postal Regulations are no such sop -- they are the authority.

Furthermore, in some states in the US, directing a patron to a place where they can participate in illegal activities would qualify as pandering, in that the person providing the information is (arguably) enabling the illegal activity.

I personally think INDUCE is a crime against the spirit of the Bill of Rights, but the problem with INDUCE isn't pandering per se -- it's that it creates a hopelessly vague, extremely low, and nationally-applied standard for pandering.
posted by lodurr at 4:57 AM on December 15, 2004


BTW, I also don't see that this establishes a legal exposure for using BitTorrent or even for hosting torrents. It spreads FUD, sure; but much as dental picks can be used for things other than picking locks, BitTorrent has plenty of legitimate uses.
posted by lodurr at 5:04 AM on December 15, 2004


Simon: That was brilliant. Made me laugh out loud.
posted by ruddhist at 5:21 AM on December 15, 2004


Cockroaches that don't want to pay fifteen bucks to see Blade 3.

...AND have to sit through fifteen minutes of commercials before we can even watch it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:37 AM on December 15, 2004


...AND have to sit through fifteen minutes of commercials before we can even watch it.

...including one about Neil the set painter who'll be unable to feed his family because people are downloading movies.
posted by Tenuki at 5:49 AM on December 15, 2004


This legal threat from Dreamworks to a bittorrent site based in Sweden isn't funny at all, but the webmaster's reponse to the company is the funniest, cleverest thing I've read in the past few days.
posted by tapeguy at 5:52 AM on December 15, 2004


personally i use bittorrent as a tivo-substitute. when i miss a show (or forget to record it, etc., etc.) i just fire up the torrent and download a copy, watch it, and delete. i'm not trying to collect an entire season of shows, i'm not spending a lot of time redistributing them (when the torrent is up, yes i'm sharing, but otherwise i'm not), and i'm not making permanent copies of anything. in short, there is nothing i'm doing with bittorrent that i can't do faster with alternate means (tivo/DVR, tivo to DVD or just TV to VCR, etc.) but i don't have a tivo/ DVR, a DVD burner, and when i forget to tape something i'd be left to the benevolence of the network to watch the episode - but who knows when it will be re-run?

what really stinks is that generally most shows are run a second time on a different station - but i can't watch them, because the cable company blocks access to station X at time Y so that i'm forced to watch on a specific channel and time slot. this still pisses me off. if they don't want me to download things, then allow me to watch the stations i'm already paying for.

at any rate, yes there are legitimate uses for the technology, and we all know the average user probably isn't amassing burned DVDs to sell on the chinese black market, but those of us who are just looking to see what happened on Popular TV Show last week because the damn VCR didn't start taping on time get trampled by the MPAA's rush to kill the torrent.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:05 AM on December 15, 2004


Oy. It's like outlawing fire because arson is a crime. Soon, even developing a P2P technology will be illegal, as they can't stop each and every one as it pops up - they're the technological equivalent of designer drugs.
posted by FormlessOne at 6:24 AM on December 15, 2004


I would like someone to suggest what Finnish or European law the site can be accused of breaking, given that torrent files contain no copyrighted material.

Most tracker servers also share the file, in case there are no other seeders. So, if law doesn't specifically prohibit serving trackers, the trial would be illegal filesharing.
posted by Psychnic at 6:31 AM on December 15, 2004


From the brilliant response letter posted above:

It is the opinion of us and our lawyers that you are fucking morons, and
that you should please go sodomize yourself with retractable batons.


More inventive than anything Hollywood has imagined and foisted upon us in years.
posted by WolfDaddy at 6:35 AM on December 15, 2004


Also, a couple of pictures are worth a thousand words. Heh heh.
posted by WolfDaddy at 6:39 AM on December 15, 2004


Bittorrent traffic supposedly accounts for 35% of all Internet traffic.

Also, if you have a known good .torrent file, you're pretty much guaranteed to get a known good download, unless the MPAA could generate corrupted blocks with an identical SHA1 hash (a 1 in 2160 shot). We'll see how this new decentralized system authenticates actual .torrents -- the protocol already does a great job authenticating the data you get.

Bram Cohen himself has gone on record many, many times that using Bittorrent for piracy is an all-around dumb idea. There's no way to hide your identity if you're a peer, seed, or tracker. (Yes, I know about PeerGuardian, but that just means they can't *connect* to you -- they still can tell if you're a peer or seed)
posted by zsazsa at 6:53 AM on December 15, 2004


The article is wrong. Nobody was arrested, at least not yet. They're only suspecting 34 people.
posted by lazy-ville at 7:02 AM on December 15, 2004


From the linked article:

The Motion Picture Ass. of America (MPAA) today announced...

God bless the Reg =)
posted by kableh at 7:06 AM on December 15, 2004


I hope they go after the librarians next. Those copyright-flouting crypto-anarchist scum have had it coming for a long time now!
posted by meehawl at 7:09 AM on December 15, 2004


Hey, kids, stop all the downloading, Ben Affleck needs more coke money!
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 7:24 AM on December 15, 2004


fvw: According to this CacheLogic study (which is somewhat limited in its scope), BitTorrent is the single highest-trafficked protocol. It's roughly equal to FastTrack + eDonkey and dwarfs HTTP.
posted by aaronetc at 7:26 AM on December 15, 2004


Most tracker servers also share the file, in case there are no other seeders. So, if law doesn't specifically prohibit serving trackers, the trial would be illegal filesharing.

This is Not true. Trackers are generally on different servers for exactly that reason. Anyone who also puts a seed on the same server as a tracker doesn't know what they are doing.

T-minus 10 till someone adds a 128 bit encryption to the BT protocol. What will they do then? Outlaw encryption? Oh wait, they need that to "protect" the dvd's in the first place. I know, only the Right People will be allowed to use the internets.
posted by clubfoote at 7:27 AM on December 15, 2004


Contributory copyright infringement is what this falls under in the US. It's indirect, but it's still illegal, even without the INDUCE crap.
posted by smackfu at 7:33 AM on December 15, 2004


There's no way to hide your identity if you're a peer, seed, or tracker. Their next step may well be suits against individual downloaders.
posted by caddis at 7:36 AM on December 15, 2004


It is the opinion of us and our lawyers that you are fucking morons, and
that you should please go sodomize yourself with retractable batons.


priceless, thanks for the link tapeguy
posted by kamylyon at 7:44 AM on December 15, 2004


fvw, I have it on good authority that Bit Torrent is, in fact, the #1 bandwidth user for ISPs today. This comes from a top level administrator in a medium sized ISP.

As far as technicalities, etc, go, the MPAA have been using technicalities to arrest people for so long, getting some of their most wanted off the hook on a technicality only seems fair.
posted by shepd at 7:44 AM on December 15, 2004


Being an avid music fan, back in the day (1983...being all of 6 years old) I went straight from vinyl to CD (I bought a Pioneer 6 disc stacker from a guy in my building in NYC for $50 with my brother...he wanted $100 but we acted patchetic and said $50 was all we had) and never used tape. At the time, the discs cost ~$15 and came in the long boxes...with notes saying how the technology was so new that they promised the price would come down as they got cheaper to make. As the years went on, the price stayed the same...while tape was much cheaper. Today CDs cost *more* than they did when first released, while the manufacturing cost has dropped signifigantly. The recording industry needs to take a look at their business model since we the consumers are the ultimate arbitrators (and are obviously buying less CDs as shown in their drop in sales). Personally, I have not bought a CD from a major label in many years...I buy only from bands that have their own label.

What also bothers me in the never ending story about file sharing, is the complete lack of mention of any of the *legal* file sharing networks. Many artists are 'taper friendly' and will gladly allow anyone to download, listen and share their live shows on places like Furthurnet and etree (since these bands actually have talent that comes out best during live performances). If the RIAA and crew stopped churning out artists that can only sound good after some serious studio magic and looked for people that sound good live, they might be able to turn their profit loss around.
posted by gren at 7:47 AM on December 15, 2004


Their next step may well be suits against individual downloaders.

I think this is more problematic for the **AA's then it was with Fast Track/Ed2K suits. The nature of BT's swarming downloads increases the amount of research they need to perform in order to gather evidence. So far they've been suing based on number of infringements to generate press and slow the network by taking out the top of the pyramid (I forget the exact numbers but it was a small number of people providing a disproportionate amount of content). If the numbers are right and 35% of all internet traffic is BT, then suing everyone would be impossible.

With the former systems, when they find a user sharing X GB of data and its enough to make a good example of them, they generate a suit. When a user joins a BT swarm, they're sharing 1 file for X amount of time, they may share the same total number of files over a certain period, but in order to find them each search must be done individually. Its alot more work to join each torrent and back track each user's IP range, then track all them to try and build up to the same level of evidence that was found with one Fast Track/ED2K scan.
posted by clubfoote at 7:56 AM on December 15, 2004


Hmm yes, cachelogic does appear to have at least reasonably sane research behind its conclusions (which is unusual for that kind of enterprise, but a very positive thing). Still, I have some suspicions about them cherry picking their data. My (anecdotal but firsthand) data is from a university network (including student ADSL); I have no hard figures but I don't there being that much bittorrent. Oh well, let's just stick with "a lot of bandwidth is used by bittorrent", which says absolutely nothing, by virtue of which we can all agree on it.
posted by fvw at 8:00 AM on December 15, 2004


There's no way to hide your identity if you're a peer, seed, or tracker.

Use Azureus. It has a plugin called SafePeer that downloads a list of known addresses to block when downloading or seeding files. It also allows you to mask your IP when connecting to a tracker, so even if the MPAA, RIAA and such are monitoring a particular tracker, they won't get a valid IP.

BitTorrent itself may not be all that secure, but the OSS community has really stepped-up to make the tools a lot more secure.

That being said, I'm still against piracy. I only use BT to download TV episodes. Either I've missed their air dates, or I find the incessent advertising distracting and I'd rather focus on the content (MythBusters et al.). I'd use TiVo, but it's not legally available in Canada.
posted by purephase at 8:01 AM on December 15, 2004


Why not just encrypt the tracker info in the program? So when somebody creates a tracker they can encrypt its location into a form only the client understands, using a key instead of a URL for reference. They share the key with their torrent community. The people who wish to use the tracker plug the key into their torrent, which unencrypts it. This would require the torrent to upload itself to the tracker, not the user, but that doesn't sound too difficult. Then when people connect to the tracker they can't see what server they're connected to.

I suppose, now that I think about it, that outgoing traffic has to be traceable. Does anybody with more expertise care to comment on the feasibility of this system? Are there any ways encryption could be used to protect BitTorrent?
posted by baphomet at 8:35 AM on December 15, 2004


Well, hrm. There is this notion of "aiding and abetting" under which I can be found to be in the wrong if I arrange for a crime to happen, even if I don't actually commit the crime. Another way to look at is racketeering in which the person who knows about and organizes criminal activity is also a criminal.

So the argument that trackers should not be responsible because they just distribute the IP numbers strikes me as being a rather lame rationalization.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:38 AM on December 15, 2004


At the time, the discs cost ~$15 and came in the long boxes...with notes saying how the technology was so new that they promised the price would come down as they got cheaper to make. As the years went on, the price stayed the same...while tape was much cheaper.

This is a common misconception. CDs were actually closer to $20 (in 1983 dollars) when they first came out, and are around $15 now (in 2004 dollars) thanks to widespread discounting at retailers like Best Buy and Amazon -- and there are even cheaper places to buy your CDs. This represents something like a two-thirds price decrease.
posted by kindall at 8:50 AM on December 15, 2004


From the Inflation Calculator: What cost $15 in 1983 would cost $27.27 in 2003.
posted by zsazsa at 8:56 AM on December 15, 2004


purephase, I do use Azureus. SafePeer is the same thing as PeerGuardian, which I was talking about earlier. It doesn't amount to much protection, as it relies on a manually-collected list of "bad" **AA/law enforcement IPs. If they had any brains they'd just get a consumer DSL/Cable account to bust people with. (Do they?)

And giving the tracker a bogus IP will protect your identity to some degree, but you won't be able to accept incoming connections, resulting in poor download speeds. And once you connect to another seed or peer to download data, you've revealed your IP.
posted by zsazsa at 9:05 AM on December 15, 2004


This latest move against P2P is irrelevant. Something will take its place. A secure system will evolve. RIAA and MPAA can not win.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:30 AM on December 15, 2004


What bothers me is how easy it seems for US-based organizations to flex their muscles in foreign countries. I can't believe for a minute that the US government would allow, say Finnish Widgetcom, to raid an ISP in Teaneck, NJ. Yet Indymedia servers get seized, as if they were local.
posted by tommasz at 10:43 AM on December 15, 2004


This latest move against P2P is irrelevant. Something will take its place. A secure system will evolve. RIAA and MPAA can not win.

Sure they can. What, you think multi-billion dollar industries just curl up and die because they don't want to offend people stealing their product?

In the end, they want to own the digital music distribution industry, just as they presently own the silicon wafer music distribution industry. If that mean bankrupting 10,000 music downloaders -- hell, if that means giving some music downloaders jail time, they'll do it. They have a lobby. You don't.
posted by chakalakasp at 12:45 PM on December 15, 2004


Sadly, I agree with Chakalaskasp. I spent nearly 15 years working for a member of the MPAA. However, in my experience, the MPAA has always been divided by its own members. They don't trust each other, members have differing agendas and meetings are rife with violent disagreements. (Based on the battle versus ReplayTV and other class action lawsuits---you haven't lived until you've been through one of Those conference calls). However, the fear of the "napsterization" of film product is unifying them as never before---especially in a post-Valenti era. This one truly scares them, almost to the point of irrationality.
posted by Duck_Lips at 1:03 PM on December 15, 2004


I repeat, RIAA and MPAA can not win. They can only make it more challenging to locate pirated digital media.

For instance, it is dead easy to set up a Torrent that only accepts trusted IPs. This means I can share with only those people I personally know and trust. Those people can do the same. As storage becomes damn near free, it becomes possible to share a shedload of media directly with my friends, who will in turn share with their friends, and so on.

Or let's say push really comes to shove: with DVD recorders becoming cheap like borsht, it wouldn't take much effort to rip media to disc and share it by hand or snailmail. Piss me off enough, and I just might make a half-dozen copies of every movie I watch, to be shared directly with friends, who can then share with friends.

In a world where seven degrees of connection more or less accounts for half the population, it's not difficult to thwart RIIA's and MPAA's every move.

Inevitably they're going to have to change their business model. I want to pay for my entertainment, because it's in my own self-interest to finance the producer so it can make more of it.

What has changed is that now I am in control: I get to set the time and date that I watch it, I get to directly support the good stuff, and I get to set the price.

Make it easier for me to get the media and dead easy for me to pay for it at a price point I'm willing to tolerate, and I'll happily support the producers.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:43 PM on December 15, 2004


What, you think multi-billion dollar industries just curl up and die because they don't want to offend people stealing their product?

No, they curl up and die because they have "always been divided by [their] own members. They don't trust each other, members have differing agendas and meetings are rife with violent disagreements." (thanks duck_lips)

That, and middlemen don't have the word "innovate" in their dictionaries. And never have.
posted by WolfDaddy at 2:01 PM on December 15, 2004


Piss me off enough, and I just might make a half-dozen copies of every movie I watch, to be shared directly with friends, who can then share with friends.

Music is at a related stage. CD-Rs are so cheap and easy to make students where I work don't even bother to check the lost and found if they forget a CD in a workstation. I must get a couple dozen a semester turned in and I've never had anyone ask if their CD-R was turned in.
posted by Mitheral at 2:14 PM on December 15, 2004


This one truly scares them, almost to the point of irrationality.

Here's what's so tragic about all of this: they could kill two birds with one stone so easily if they wanted to.

Offer TV shows after broadcast, stripped of commercials, in high-resolution open-ended format, for $2.00 a show, a-la iTunes. Simultaneously eliminate the need to pirate, and make a few bucks on the side.

This is all just so friggin' DUH it hurts.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:05 PM on December 15, 2004


I'm amazed at the system that's grown up around organizations like RIAA and MPAA: People who have no idea how to express themselves creatively are trying to exert control over someone elses' work. They legislate their necessity out of thin air. After doing it long enough with nobody complaining loud enough, they start to believe it's their legal, moral, and god-given Right to control it. Said above, I'll say it again: They cannot win. Their very existence is an aberration. Artists can now directly communicate their work with fans through highly efficient decentralized distribution systems, and indeed are already doing it.
posted by odinsdream at 3:21 PM on December 15, 2004


The MPAA cannot win, just like how the RIAA cannot win. The IP issues of the last 5 years are just the beginning.

I saw [sf author] Bruce Sterling speak a few months ago. Someone asked him what he thought the most pressing social issues were going to be in the near future. "Intellectual property" was basically his answer -- and I think he's right.

In other news, my favorite BT site (recently moved to a server in the Netherlands) seems to be down, even though it was up last night. This does not bode well. :(
posted by neckro23 at 4:22 PM on December 15, 2004


Intelectual property is important, but I think it’s quite a ways down on the list of pressing social issues.
posted by Tenuki at 5:53 PM on December 15, 2004


I'm with tommasz, can I come and invade Teaneck, NJ now because you guys play poker in public? It's against Swedish law youknow.

it's a retarded and oft ignored law, but you get the drift.
posted by dabitch at 5:55 PM on December 15, 2004


Though IP property (copyright of films/images) is more or less the same all over, it's just quite odd, like tommasz said, how servers are confiscated in other countries due to some stepping of US toes.
posted by dabitch at 5:57 PM on December 15, 2004


(there should be a special internet law, really....)

do'h, I just fell into the Civil_Disobedient trap except not quite as eloquent...
posted by dabitch at 6:00 PM on December 15, 2004


The RIAA and MPAA cannot win. Napster was around for years before it got shut down, the Gnutella protocol that replaced it is still going strong, BitTorrent has been around for years (yep, years) and this is the first time they've become aware of it, and IRC and FTP have been around for over a decade! Who knows what's going to come next? These companies are somehow always 2-3 years behind the technology they're trying to fight, and each time a new technology comes along it just keeps getting harder and harder for the corporations to deal with. They can't beat that kind of innovation.

They have a lobby. You don't.

If the corporations are 2-3 years behind the technology, Congress is 5.
(and by the way, yes we do.)
posted by baphomet at 6:03 PM on December 15, 2004


They have a lobby. You don't.

You know, I'm sure that the canal builders had powerful lobbyists in their day.
posted by meehawl at 8:02 PM on December 15, 2004


purephase: That being said, I'm still against piracy. I only use BT to download TV episodes. Either I've missed their air dates, or I find the incessent advertising distracting and I'd rather focus on the content (MythBusters et al.). I'd use TiVo, but it's not legally available in Canada.

Just curious - how is "against piracy" but for avoiding "incessant advertising" a consistent position? Seems a little hypocritical.
posted by Bort at 8:58 PM on December 15, 2004


The legal basis for the investigation - from what I've heard and read so far - is not actually just the piracy. The site was funded through donations and the admin even had his bank account number published on the site. Therefore the officials suspect that they were earning money through unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material. But as lazy-ville pointed out, so far no one has been arrested, they are under investigation, which is expected to take several months.

The finnish copyright laws are quite flexible. It states for example that you have the right to make (some) copies of copyrighted material for personal, uncommercial use even if you don't own the material you're copying but borrowed it. Personal use also includes family and friends.
posted by popkick at 12:43 AM on December 16, 2004


Just curious - how is "against piracy" but for avoiding "incessant advertising" a consistent position? Seems a little hypocritical.

Some people, me included, believe that it makes more sense to pay for services you use, rather than letting advertising pay for it. If advertisement pays for your TV shows, why do you have a cable bill? Infrastructure, perhaps, but how do you explain paying extra for different tiers of service, the difference between which is simply more or less channels?

Obviously, there's a discrepancy. Either the ads are paying for it, or you are. In the case that you believe your cable bill pays for your TV, I see no reason why you'd feel bad about skipping the advertisements.

In fact, I don't see why you'd feel bad under any circumstances. It's not my fault they chose a bad business plan.

Do you feel that TiVo is piracy, as well? If not, how is downloading the episode different from using your TiVo, aside from the fact that you didn't pay TiVo's membership fee -- the more apt analogy would be a plain VCR. I don't understand why you think "against piracy" should also imply "approves of and wants to support the ad-based revenue model."
posted by odinsdream at 7:09 AM on December 16, 2004


odinsdream: Either the ads are paying for it, or you are.

Or the business model is a combination of subscription fees and advertisement sales.

I don't see why you'd feel bad under any circumstances.

I'm not saying you should. I'm an unrepenting pirate of movies, games, and music. I have a subscription to netflix with the sole intent of ripping and burning as many movies as possible - although I think I'm going to cancel it, as I've copied all I wanted.

Do you feel that TiVo is piracy, as well?

Good question. I would tend to answer, no, its not.

If not, how is downloading the episode different from using your TiVo, aside from the fact that you didn't pay TiVo's membership fee -- the more apt analogy would be a plain VCR.

Well, I think legally speaking, recording a broadcast and redistributing a broadcast (sending or receiving) are two separate things. But I do get your point and I think it's a valid one. Another similar example would be why is it ok for me to capture a movie broadcast on tv and burn it to a DVD, but renting a DVD and copying it not ok? (ok in the legal sense)

I readily admit I don't know the answers to questions surrounding these gray zones.

My original question - how being against piracy but ok with a milder form of piracy (if you will) is a consistent position - was not meant as a criticism, but as a real question. Is there a "morality"/"moral stance" that can hold both positions and still be consistent? If so, what is the rational?

I'm curious, I think, because this is an area where I find inconsistencies within myself. I think its wrong to, and would never, shoplift, however I have no problem with pirating. Why is that? The only reason I can think of is that with shoplifting there is a (good?) chance of getting caught, while with pirating the chances of getting caught are very slim. I don't like what that says about me as a person, and I really don't like having inconsistencies in my belief structure. I hate hypocrisy. Apparently, though, in this instance I don't hate it enough to give up all the free music.
posted by Bort at 8:20 PM on December 16, 2004


With software piracy, I wouldn't pay for the data in the first place, I'd do without. With media piracy, I'd gladly pay for the data if only they'd make it available to me at terms I'd agree to. And for me, it'd be something under a buck for Daily Show, a buck for Scrubs, and perhaps even a couple bucks, now that I'm convinced it's gonna be great, for Regenesis.

And if there's a best thing about that system of entertainment distribution, it's that only the good shows will survive.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:58 PM on December 16, 2004


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