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May 31, 2006 12:05 PM   Subscribe

The Pirate Bay has been shut down.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket (90 comments total)

 
Already once today....
posted by dios at 12:07 PM on May 31, 2006


The links actually work this time, is the difference.

ArrrrrrrrIP.
posted by Zozo at 12:16 PM on May 31, 2006


Well, at least this was a decent post. Check this out:

Having timed this to coincide with an election campaign Antipiratbyrån will have seriously aggravated a high percentage of Sweden's population in their use of police tactics to deal with what is essentially a civil dispute, and almost guaranteed PiratPartiet's entry into government this fall.

I have no idea what the internal structure of Sweden's government is like, but I find it incredible that a political party dedicated to copyright reform (or infringement, depending on your viewpoint) is not only healthy but expected to take a share of representation during the next elections.

That's where the real story in all this is, the "Pirate Party". Any swedes out there care to comment?
posted by WetherMan at 12:18 PM on May 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


lame
posted by beachgrrlmusic at 12:25 PM on May 31, 2006


It is interesting that they confiscated the servers in order to find out if any copyright infringement is going on. The publicly available site content is either in violation of a law or it isn't. I don't see what having the actual servers in their possession could really tell the investigators that typing the url into their webbrowser couldn't.
posted by aburd at 12:32 PM on May 31, 2006


i honestly wonder how this will turn out. i mean, on the one hand you have what is obviously a clearing house of links to copyrighted material. On the other you have the 'facts' that they weren't actually hosting any of the material (whether that's true or not remains to be seen) and that the DCMA and other laws that are typically cited in cases like this, don't apply to Sweden, where this all took place.

i never used TPB, but i wish them the best. i hope they come back, if for no other reason, i bet their Legal Threats section will be even better after this.
posted by quin at 12:33 PM on May 31, 2006


Well, when they shutdown suprnova.org it took something like three days for mininova.org to pop up. They'll be back up at a new domain in no time.
posted by SweetJesus at 12:35 PM on May 31, 2006


aburd, that makes no sense.
posted by mzurer at 12:35 PM on May 31, 2006


I'll miss their "letters" section.
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:50 PM on May 31, 2006


This seems to be just another warez site being taken down. But a FPP about the Pirate Party would have been much more interesting...
posted by Mr. Six at 12:51 PM on May 31, 2006


Mr. Six : "But a FPP about the Pirate Party would have been much more interesting..."

Well, go ahead.
posted by Bugbread at 12:52 PM on May 31, 2006


MPAA propaganda, with exclamation point!
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 1:08 PM on May 31, 2006


I already miss The Pirate Bay. I only wish I'd bought a Pirate Bay t-shirt. Lukily I got a Suprnova t-shirt before they got taken down!
posted by newfers at 1:10 PM on May 31, 2006


This seems to be just another warez site being taken down.

The difference is, TPB is - on the face of it - legal under swedish law. It's equivalent to say, Google being shut down for investigation under US law because it's possible to find links to copyright infringing material on it. The torrents themselves contain no infringing copyrighted material, just directions to servers that will tell you where to find people who do. There are legal torrents there too, I grabbed SUSE 10.1 there the other day.

Since the TPB didn't host any infringing files directly, and Sweden supposedly doesn't have the vicarious/contributory offences that the US does, the way that the original napster was shut down doesn't apply.

Plus, 50 police officers to arrest a couple of geeks and impound a bunch of servers, including those of a political party that were in the same room. In a potential illegal search. On the basis that there might be some hidden infringing files on them, at the behest of American media conglomerates. Seems a little bit of an overkill to me.

I'll miss their letters too, WolfDaddy. They really did nail obnoxious and badly informed solicitors, who assumed that the usual form letter would cause terror and compliance regardless of the actual law in 'foreign' countries.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:12 PM on May 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


On the other you have the 'facts' that they weren't actually hosting any of the material (whether that's true or not remains to be seen)

You misunderstand what a "fact" is, my friend. Fact: BitTorrent does not require that trackers, such as The Pirate Bay, host any of the actual file content, i.e., the movie/game/TV show. Nothing "remains to be seen," and saying otherwise changes nothing.
posted by odinsdream at 1:16 PM on May 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


More to the point, though, when will someone step up with a newer, more mesh-like technology for hosting these trackers? Something that I can wget & tar on my own server, edit a config file, and ta-da, I'm running a mirror of the tracker on my own site. This needs to be done quickly in order to leverage the power of the internet to route around the bad areas (i.e., seizures of servers) and maintain service. The technology is here. Running single-point-of-failure trackers is just not going to cut it.
posted by odinsdream at 1:19 PM on May 31, 2006


MPAA propaganda, with exclamation point!
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:08 PM EST on May 31


Don't Copy that Floppy!
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 1:22 PM on May 31, 2006


.
posted by Flashman at 1:22 PM on May 31, 2006


(and with just one more episode of the Sopranos to go this season, tabarnac! Supafly2000 has been so good to us at TPB, posting the eps within hours of their HBOcast. Oh well, there's always [redacted]).
posted by Flashman at 1:27 PM on May 31, 2006


Gah. I haven't even downloaded any "illegal" files in at least a year, but I only have one thing to say:

Fuck you, RIAA. Fuck you too, MPAA. Go take a flying fuck at the moon.
posted by loquacious at 1:30 PM on May 31, 2006


newfers : "I only wish I'd bought a Pirate Bay t-shirt."

Apparently, they're still available (they aren't directly produced by Pirate Bay, but by a Cafe Press-like 3rd party, unaffected by the seizures): Pirate Bay Shop
posted by Bugbread at 1:31 PM on May 31, 2006


As much as I want one of their shirts. I don't $52 want it. Damn exchange rate.
posted by 517 at 1:31 PM on May 31, 2006


odinsdream: recent BT clients are in fact beginning to support "trackerless" or DHT-based operation.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:31 PM on May 31, 2006


The party, not the website.
posted by 517 at 1:32 PM on May 31, 2006


April May Fool
posted by pantsrobot at 1:42 PM on May 31, 2006


hah, smartarses! but who needs torrents anyway when you've got good old usenet?
posted by Onanist at 1:50 PM on May 31, 2006


pantsrobot, that's last year.
posted by rollbiz at 1:50 PM on May 31, 2006


That was last year, pantsrobot. They spread rumours of a raid while they upgraded. This time, you have the MPAA crowing about it, and police confirmation of the raids.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:51 PM on May 31, 2006


Gah dammit, I just looked at the date on the top right and was too happy to check further. Should have posted that after looking for more sources:(
posted by pantsrobot at 1:52 PM on May 31, 2006


So does this mean the Sweedish cops have a whole bunch of IP addresses of people who have used this site to download stuff then?

Like a whole list of IP addresses that could be passed on to the various recording industries and police forces around the world?


I'll miss the pirate bay too - recently found it was a great site to access industrial/ebm/darkwave or what I fondly call "goth techno" via downloading peoples dj mixes or general mix cds (which in turn led me to find new artists and music I liked which then led me to fire up Gemm and order cds...)
posted by 13twelve at 1:53 PM on May 31, 2006


13twelve, there's a program (freeware) called PeerGuardian which (I believe) will keep the looming powers of the recording industry from logging your IP address. Looking at the list of blocked parties who have tried to access your computer is quite fascinating - scary sounding legal companies, but also like the City of Guelph, US Navy-Napoli, weird places like that.
posted by Flashman at 2:02 PM on May 31, 2006


13twelve: www.themixingbowl.org
posted by SweetJesus at 2:11 PM on May 31, 2006


13twelve - it's trivial to get those already. The RIAA/MPAA just join a torrent, handing out fake data, and the tracker will eventually give them the IP's of everyone else downloading/uploading that file.

Bittorrent was never designed to be safe/anonymous P2P network, it's just designed to be fast. Header encryption on the newer clients hides the content of the traffic somewhat from the man-in-the-middle (i.e. your ISP), but not from the other peers.

What's arguably more risky is the private torrent sites. They usually enforce ratios of upload/download, and thus have a list of every file you've ever uploaded. That large scale evidence is more likely to cause lawsuits, than small-scale evidence of partial infringment (if you don't share an entire file, but only pieces of it, are you under fair use or not? Not clear yet)

On preview: peerguardian stops known monitoring IP's from requesting data from you (and direct evidence of infringement), but it's plenty likely there are organisations using unknown home address IPs to monitor with.
posted by ArkhanJG at 2:13 PM on May 31, 2006


I have no idea what the internal structure of Sweden's government is like, but I find it incredible that a political party dedicated to copyright reform (or infringement, depending on your viewpoint) is not only healthy but expected to take a share of representation during the next elections.

It sounds like the mystery government structure in question is "a democracy". If only they could spread democracy to countries like the USA :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 2:20 PM on May 31, 2006


From the Wikipedia article, it seems TPB is more than just another torrentsite in Sweden. So there's probably some political reason for the government parties to show some action against it. I'm still not cynical enough to want to believe that any American company has such influence over European governments.

Those bittorrent fear-mongering actions earlier in the year smelled like not much more than a half-assed attempt to scare off would-be torrent users.
posted by Harry at 2:32 PM on May 31, 2006


.
posted by furtive at 2:34 PM on May 31, 2006


A party must thus receive at least 4 % of the votes in the entire country or 12 % in a single electoral district to qualify for any seats

I don't think they'll be in the next parliament, but they'll definitely keep the topic up.
posted by hoskala at 2:36 PM on May 31, 2006


In most parliamentary governments, people can vote for whatever party they want, and then the seats are divided up by party, or something like that. The US government is polarized along this republican/democrat axis as a sort of accident of how we were formed. Remember we were the first democracy in the modern era.
posted by delmoi at 2:56 PM on May 31, 2006


delmoi: No, the US is polarized because a seat requires winning an entire electorate. Statistically, and practically, this pretty much rules out third parties.

It doesn't matter which parties are running in the USA, or their history, it works the same as every other country with a similar winner-takes-all electorate-based system - the system always converges on two mega-parties to the near exclusion of all else.
posted by -harlequin- at 3:09 PM on May 31, 2006


I'm Swedish and this is pretty much enough to guarantee my vote for the Pirate Party. I've been a bit worried about the consequences of their politics might have on free software but this raid was definitely the straw that broke the camel's back.

The Swedish public TV has been reporting that the raids happened after politicians put pressure on the police. The politicians had in turn been put under pressure from the US. The implications that foreign interests can directly override Swedish law (to my knowledge, TPB is perfectly legal in Sweden) seems quite scary to me.

hoskala: While it's possible that 4% won't be reached, they could get enough to qualify for some benefits for the next election.
Over 1% and we'll get 20 tons of free ballots for the next election, at 2.7% we get enough to support one full-time employee, 2.9% gives two full-time employments [source]
ArkhanJG: In the Pirate Party forum it was explained that no server belonging to the Pirate Party was confiscated. Servers belonging to "Piratbyrån" (The Pirate Agency) were confiscated though. Also servers belonging to several other organizations were confiscated despite, as far as I can tell, the confiscation order only applied to TPB.

Most of this stuff I read from the Pirate Party forum. I don't have the energy to properly source the stuff so that's the reason for all the vagueness.
posted by rycee at 3:13 PM on May 31, 2006 [1 favorite]


delmoi: Remember we were the first democracy in the modern era.

What?
posted by reklaw at 3:22 PM on May 31, 2006


Oh well, guess I'll just have to rely more on torrentscan to find those juicy torrents.
posted by telstar at 3:31 PM on May 31, 2006


Remember we were the first democracy in the modern era.
posted by delmoi at 4:56 PM CST on May 31 [+fave] [!]


You know 'modern era' usually means anything after 0 AD, right?
posted by cellphone at 3:44 PM on May 31, 2006


Leaving aside the arguable legality of torrents in countries other than Sweden, the fact that it is legal to do what they do under Swedish law leads me to believe (hope) that this will only be a temporary set back to the folks who ran the servers.

To paraphrase something Arnie once said in a movie you could presumably have found a torrent to on The Pirate Bay, they'll be back.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:45 PM on May 31, 2006


Leaving aside the arguable legality of torrents in countries other than Sweden, the fact that it is legal to do what they do under Swedish law leads me to believe (hope) that this will only be a temporary set back to the folks who ran the servers.

To paraphrase something Arnie once said in a movie you could presumably have found a torrent to on The Pirate Bay, they'll be back.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:45 PM on May 31, 2006


Leaving aside the arguable legality of torrents in countries other than Sweden, the fact that it is legal to do what they do under Swedish law leads me to believe (hope) that this will only be a temporary set back to the folks who ran the servers.

To paraphrase something Arnie once said in a movie you could presumably have found a torrent to on The Pirate Bay, they'll be back.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:45 PM on May 31, 2006


You misunderstand what a "fact" is, my friend. Fact: BitTorrent does not require that trackers, such as The Pirate Bay, host any of the actual file content, i.e., the movie/game/TV show. Nothing "remains to be seen," and saying otherwise changes nothing.

Ach, i knew i was going to get called out for that line. What i meant by putting 'facts' in quotes and my subsequent parenthetical statement was that all of their machines were seized. Servers, personal machines, etc. The odd are good that somewhere there is something that is a copyright infringement, and despite the fact that it was not being served, it could work against them.

i know that links to torrents are not, in and of themselves violations of copyright. Further, from what i've seen TPB were not acting outside of Swedish law. However despite all these factors in their favor, they were still raided. Which means someone brought pressure on them. Someone who was able to convince the authorities that these 'facts' were irrelevant.

If what happened has been accurately reported, it's a bullshit bust. But because someone had the power to make the bust happen, that same someone might have the power to ignore little facts like links to torrents are not copyrighted material.

Here's to hoping that i am wrong.
posted by quin at 3:51 PM on May 31, 2006


The year 0 A.D.? As opposed to that other year 0?

Anyway, are there any Swedish lawyers who can actually comment on the claim that what TPB does is actually legal? And is there somewhere like thesmokinggun where we can see the warrant that was used for the raid? Does hosting a torent qualify as whatever is the Swedish equivalent is to probable cause? If it turns out there are copyrighted materials on any of those servers, would the warrant allow those to be used in evidence? Or are they really looking at the servers to verufy the claim that there are only trackers and no copyrighted files? Is it plausible that the prosecutors don't really understand p2p and think they will catch them distributing the actual materials?
posted by mzurer at 3:56 PM on May 31, 2006


mzurer : "The year 0 A.D.? As opposed to that other year 0?"

There are other calendars in existence, you know. It's the year 18 where I live.
posted by Bugbread at 4:07 PM on May 31, 2006


if an American recently made an account on this site and used it, theoretically, to download a movie or two, is said person in big trouble? Should said person just sell the house for cash and run to Costa Rica, or what?
posted by luriete at 4:13 PM on May 31, 2006


The year 0 A.D.? As opposed to that other year 0?

Like any one of these?

You know 'modern era' usually means anything after 0 AD, right?


You know there is no 0 AD, right?

People! If you're going to snark, don't also be wrong! You just look more foolish than the person you're attacking!
posted by ChasFile at 4:21 PM on May 31, 2006


aburd said 'I don't see what having the actual servers in their possession could really tell the investigators that typing the url into their webbrowser couldn't.'

Well, conceivably TPB might have been seeding torrents of files stored on their servers despite their assurances to the contrary, which you wouldn't necessarily be able to tell by accessing the site...
posted by jack_mo at 4:27 PM on May 31, 2006


Now that the biggest torrent site is gone, I can't WAIT for music, movies and software to suddenly become cheaper. Because they will, right?
posted by martinrebas at 4:34 PM on May 31, 2006


rycee: good to know. Initial reports had a bunch of different groups' servers being confiscated, including some of the Pirate Party. At least political espionage isn't involved.

mzurer - Is it plausible that the prosecutors don't really understand p2p and think they will catch them distributing the actual materials?

Pretty possible they don't understand the difference between torrents, trackers and peers, given the amount of badly drafted takedown notices that have been sent the PirateBay's way. There's been a lot of pressure from the MPAA members on the Swedish government over the last couple of years to find some way to shut down TPB, up to the point of trying to get them to draft new laws to make what they're doing illegal. No doubt the police are hoping that admins of the website have been using the torrents themselves, and have personal stashes of illegal material they can bust them for. Even the police have said they're not sure what they're looking for, or what they'll find.

Given TPB is in the top 20 favourite sites for swedes, here's hoping this foreign business bullying of the government, and its heavyhanded response will cause the swedish public to take notice.

luriete: Not really. there's far far too many people downloading torrents to be at much risk. Tens of millions of people use P2P, and so far only a few thousand lawsuits have been issued, mainly people accused of uploading large quantities of infringing files in their entirety. Your chances of being prosecuted are far less than say, being caught speeding. Technically speaking, it's not even clear that downloading is illegal, though uploading entire infringing files is much more likely to be.

What suprises me actually, is that the agencies appear to be going for the torrent sites, rather than the trackers. Those, plus the initial seeders seem to be a much more vulnerable point, given that anyone can chuck up a torrent site, but you need common trackers to feed it. Still, I suppose DHT will help reduce the need for trackers, as it becomes more commonly implemented. You'd think the agencies would have learned though that shutting down a torrent site just causes 5 more to blink into existence to replace it.
posted by ArkhanJG at 4:36 PM on May 31, 2006


if an American recently made an account on this site and used it, theoretically, to download a movie or two, is said person in big trouble? Should said person just sell the house for cash and run to Costa Rica, or what?

Anyway, speaking as someone uninvolved (I stopped warezing years ago) they'd have to arrest a non-trival portion of the American population including many juveniles and possibly a majority of all college students. I don't think you should be panicking just yet.
posted by Ryvar at 4:57 PM on May 31, 2006


Whoops. Clipped the first paragraph. It wasn't important, though.
posted by Ryvar at 5:00 PM on May 31, 2006


Oops. I confused antipiratbyrån with piratbyrån. Although the pirate party is the one running for parliament, piratbyrån is a pro-digital freedom lobbying group and political organisation in its own right, and as such protected under EU law from having its computers confiscated. Given their servers were labelled as such, I wonder what the fall-out will be of piratbyrån having its servers illegally impounded, especially if the warrent didn't specifically include them.
posted by ArkhanJG at 5:05 PM on May 31, 2006


With a discreet name like The Pirate Bay, I was hoping they'd just skate by unnoticed.
posted by scarabic at 5:17 PM on May 31, 2006


More proof that People suck and do everything they can to make life a little bit worse for everyone.
posted by nightchrome at 5:25 PM on May 31, 2006


13twelve writes "So does this mean the Sweedish cops have a whole bunch of IP addresses of people who have used this site to download stuff then?"

There is no need to keep IP logs so I doubt they did.

-harlequin- writes "It doesn't matter which parties are running in the USA, or their history, it works the same as every other country with a similar winner-takes-all electorate-based system - the system always converges on two mega-parties to the near exclusion of all else."

Canada's experience is different, many of our provinces have several viable parties and federally there are currently four parties with significant seats.

Ryvar writes "they'd have to arrest a non-trivial portion of the American population including many juveniles and possibly a majority of all college students. I don't think you should be panicking just yet."

The War on Some Drugs probably has similar demographics, the people in charge don't seem to have a problem with pursuing action against those odds.
posted by Mitheral at 5:32 PM on May 31, 2006


The War on Some Drugs probably has similar demographics, the people in charge don't seem to have a problem with pursuing action against those odds.

True, but it isn't the drug dealers who are responsible sending the cops out to do the busts, either.

I've been quite happy not buying any music CD's for the past few years. I suppose I'll be able to live without going to movie theaters as well (I've already cut back a lot.)

If the MPAA/RIAA thinks it can bust/sue itself into a market, it can do so without my participation.
posted by telstar at 6:13 PM on May 31, 2006


I don't see what having the actual servers in their possession could really tell the investigators that typing the url into their webbrowser couldn't.

Maybe not. They could certainly gain all the information in the trackers from the official site, and unless TPB are retarded they have no copyrighted material on their servers.

Therefore this smacks of harassment and intimidation. The fact that said harassment and intimidation also falls on a political party in an election year gives me that funny feeling in my tummy.
posted by spazzm at 6:22 PM on May 31, 2006


I'm more concerned about the plethora of spam postings on usenet lately.
(Yes, much more than usual)
posted by HTuttle at 6:30 PM on May 31, 2006


Like a whole list of IP addresses that could be passed on to the various recording industries and police forces around the world?

So what if they do? They only have proof that you downloaded a bittorrent file - which is not the same as downloading infringing material.
posted by wfrgms at 9:54 PM on May 31, 2006


But what if you're uploading - seeding? would they need both a seeder and a leecher to prove there was distribution of copyright material?

Oh and does this mean that half the seeders on the planet will panic and stop uploading for the next week?
posted by missbossy at 12:14 AM on June 1, 2006


The case is going to be interesting, if it ever goes to court.
The offices were raided for violating copyright or aiding in violating copyright.

The first count is clearly bogus - torrent files aren't copyrighted.
The second count is going to be hard to prove because (IANAL) swedish law doesn not prohibit information that can be used to commit a crime - the freedom of speech takes precedence.
Nor are you required to make any effort (not even the effort of common sense) to try to determine whether the person you are giving information intend to use it for criminal purposes.

A (bad) analogy would be if a man with a striped shirt, mask and gun asks you for directions to a bank - giving him those does not make you an accomplice of a crime.

The implications if this is about to change is staggering given that virtually any information can be used for criminal purposes - criminalizing information exchange would criminalize nearly every single citizen.
posted by spazzm at 12:39 AM on June 1, 2006


Translations of related information. I found the following quote to be extra interesting:
In this case, the legal advisor of TPB was arrested as though he was a part of the activities, and a DNA test was force upon him.
Pretty scary.
posted by rycee at 1:55 AM on June 1, 2006


Main site now reads SITE DOWN - WILL BE UP AND FULLY FUNCTIONAL WITHIN A DAY OR TWO
posted by ori at 3:45 AM on June 1, 2006


GO PIRATES BAY! Good luck.
posted by loquacious at 4:13 AM on June 1, 2006


Thing is though spazzm, it doesn't matter whether the charges stick or not. The equipment has been seized and won't be returned until the case has been resolved. The legal procedings are certain to drag on for 12 months or more, likely longer if it is appealed.
posted by bap98189 at 5:21 AM on June 1, 2006


They also shut down an obscurities torrent site that I visit...
posted by donth at 5:37 AM on June 1, 2006


Looks like they'll be up pretty soon:
Yesterday, ThePirateBay.org spokesperson “brokep” informed Slyck.com “we are moving it to another country if necessary.” It appears ThePirateBay.org is making good on this promise. Carl Lundström, president of Rix|Port80 told Slyck.com “As I take it, they have bought new servers, installed back-ups and are already up and running tests in at least one foreign server centre.”
posted by A Kingdom for a Donkey at 12:49 PM on June 1, 2006


Swedish media is making a number about the takedown happening by the request of the "highest levels" of US goverment. Swedish television reports that MPAA contacted The White House and the US Department of State then requested the takedown of the site. Regardless of the truth of the claims or how commonplace this would be in similar international criminal proceedings, the tone of the reporting is rather critical of the process and does indicate a certain antipathy towards bowing down to the americans. It should be interesting to see how it plays out.
posted by insomnus at 1:13 PM on June 1, 2006


Called it...
posted by SweetJesus at 2:23 PM on June 1, 2006


Several posters have suggested that distributing torrent files of copyrighted works is not copyright infringement. Since I am a sw engineer, not a lawyer, I won't speculate on the legal issues involved. From an engineering perspective, I believe a reasonable argument can be made that torrent files for mp3s and divxs are derivative works of the original music or film. A torrent file is not just a pointer or URL. It is not simply "directions" that describe how to download the shared file. The majority of a torrent file consists of cryptographic hashes of the shared file. These hashes depend on the contents of the shared file, which is in turn derived from the original music or film. So it's not entirely unreasonable to assert that distributing torrent files constitutes copyright infringement.
posted by ryanrs at 2:32 PM on June 1, 2006


United States Pressured Pirate Bay Closure from Slyck News.
posted by insomnus at 3:44 PM on June 1, 2006


ruanrs, that is a fair point.
But on the other hand, you can't really call hashes a "derivative" of the hashed data anymore than the statement "the painting depicts a lady" can be called a derivative of the Mona Lisa.

Hashes are short strings that (ideally in a unique way) identifies a file. It is computed from the contents of the file, but you cannot reverse the process and get an idea or approximation of the contents of the file form the hash.

It's like cars and licence plates - a licence plate identifies a car, but you do not have ownership of the car simply because you have the licence plate.

Another argument are that hashes are just large numbers, and surely you cannot outlaw the exchange of numbers?
But if we allow that argument, then it is obvious that all data files are simply very large numbers - so who can claim to own copyright on a number?

That a given number just happens to translate to a Disney movie when fed into a decoder is not the fault of the person that happens to distribute that number, surely?

Who, for example owns the number 4? Who owns pi?


Copyright is a tricky issue in a digital age. Sorry to go off on a tangent.
posted by spazzm at 7:41 PM on June 1, 2006


I meant ryanrs, of course. Sorry.
posted by spazzm at 7:42 PM on June 1, 2006


>you can't really call hashes a "derivative" of the hashed data anymore than the statement "the painting depicts a lady" can be called a derivative of the Mona Lisa.

I should have used a different term. Call it function or transformation if you like. IANAL, but I believe a work cannot be a derivative work without permission from the owner of the original work. Without permission, it's either an original work, a copy, or a phonebook. So my use of the term derivative was misleading.

FiveWordDescription() ⇒ "the painting depicts a lady"
MD5 (30px-Mona_Lisa_detail_face.jpg) ⇒ 94bffa75a1bea78398be21be507b203d


>Hashes are short strings that (ideally in a unique way) identifies a file. It is computed from the contents of the file, but you cannot reverse the process and get an idea or approximation of the contents of the file form the hash.

Perhaps the naked hash isn't reversible, but the torrent sure is:
F(mp3) ⇒ torrent ; F-1(torrent) ⇒ mp3
Where F is CreateAndUploadTorrent and F-1 is BitTorrentClient.


>It's like cars and licence plates - a licence plate identifies a car, but you do not have ownership of the car simply because you have the licence plate.

Right, you need the title, not the license plate. The license plate is more like a DVD: a bunch of numbers printed on reflective material that you're not allowed to duplicate or share. When in use, roadside devices shoot it with lasers and produce pictures.


>surely you cannot outlaw the exchange of numbers?

Outlawing 'em's easy. Enforcement is a bit harder, but not impossible.


>who can claim to own copyright on a number?

Copyrights cover creative works, not specific representations. For example, a book might be published in three forms: hardback, paperback, and number. All three are the same original work, not different versions.


>That a given number just happens to translate to a Disney movie when fed into a decoder is not the fault of the person that happens to distribute that number, surely?

I don't know the precise definition of "reasonable doubt", but 1 in 2128 doesn't leave much wiggle room.


>Who, for example owns the number 4? Who owns pi?

Some pretentious poet.


Note: above answers are bullshit. Please consult a lawyer for correct ones. Some answers may require a test case.
posted by ryanrs at 11:54 PM on June 1, 2006


Perhaps the naked hash isn't reversible, but the torrent sure is:
F(mp3) ⇒ torrent ; F-1(torrent) ⇒ mp3
Where F is CreateAndUploadTorrent and F-1 is BitTorrentClient.


Ah, but there's the rub. F is a genuine function in the mathematical sense - it only needs mp3 as the input.

F-1 is not a mathematical function as it is commonly used - it requires more input than the torrent to do its work. That the other input - the files shared by members of the network - are opaque to the end user does not change the matter.

You cannot recreate the hashed file using the function F-1 and the hash alone.

Except, of course, for a theoretical function F-1 that tries (or contains) all possible values for mp3 until it finds one that matches the hash. Which would take a ridiculously large amount of time.

Hashes are not compression algorithms - it they were, the case would be different:
There is a function zip(mp3) that produces a compressed version of the mp3.
The compressed version contains all the same information, albeit in a compressed form, as the uncompressed version. The original form can be retreived by the opposite algorithm unzip (or zip-1 if you prefer).



The licence plate analogy was dumb, I admit. I should have kept that one to myself.

Copyrights cover creative works, not specific representations. For example, a book might be published in three forms: hardback, paperback, and number. All three are the same original work, not different versions.

Agreed. Unfortunately the number contains all information necessary to create the other versions, so in transmitting it you are effectively transmitting all versions of the work.
But what if the number pops up somewhere else, such as in the result of some tedious computation in astrophysics?
Does the copyright owner of the book own the computational process the astrophycicist used, since it, in generating the same number, effectively contains a version of the book? Does the copyright owner own all possible computations, in all possible representations, that result in the 'book number'?

*head explodes*
posted by spazzm at 12:46 AM on June 2, 2006


You cannot recreate the hashed file using the function F-1 and the hash alone.

That should of course read:

You cannot recreate the shared file using the function F-1 and the torrent alone.

If you could, you could just download the tiny .torrent file and be done with it - no more of that tedious waiting.
posted by spazzm at 12:48 AM on June 2, 2006


Ryanars: interesting argument. I knew that torrents had a list of the files in the torrent (be pretty useless without it!), but since lists of filenames is not infringement, or even copyrightable, I didn't consider it relevant. The MD5 hash though, from a software point of view, is a standard way to ensure that the files you're getting are the same as the ones uploading, so that bad/fake data is dropped by the client. I'd not considered where the MD5 was stored, or whether that might be a derivative work. You were right to use the word derivative; if it's not a derivative work, it's not infringing, so is the key question.

Now I'm not a lawyer, and definitely not a swedish lawyer. They have strong protections for fair use rights and non-commercial use, even after their implementation of the EUCD, so any thoughts based on US or EU law regarding this may well be flawed.

That said: Normally, to be a derivative work, it needs to incorporate sufficient modifications to be copyrightable by the author of the new work, while still containing enough recognisable expression/characters/text/imagery from the original to not be a completely independent work merely inspired by the original. Basically, if it has too few changes, it's a copy, if it has too many, it's not a derivative work.

Whether an MD5 is too similar to the original hash data, is a question which I'm not sure of the answer on. Given the original file cannot be retrieved from the hash, I'd say no, otherwise everytime you use SSH or any form of encryption, you're likely committing copyright infringement!

However, I think MD5s are not derivative works. If you created an MD5 from scratch, from random data, it would be factual data - I don't think it passes the creativity test to be independently copyrightable. You don't copyright ideas, or facts, only the expression of such (patents are for ideas). Mathematical algorithms are not copyrightable for example, nor lists of facts, only their implementation in code is (and only then in sufficiently large quantity). If a new MD5 is not copyrightable, then they cannot be a new copyright if generated from another work, and thus cannot be a derivative work.

That said, this is similar to the idea of illegal primes - though those numbers are not potential illegal for copyright infringement, but because they are a version of a program that is illegal under the DMCA's circumvention of copyright protection sections.

Will be interesting to see if the Swedish police go with that interpretation, or whether they try to make some form of contributory infringement charge stick.
posted by ArkhanJG at 12:53 AM on June 2, 2006


As an aside, the website of the Swedish Police (who carried out the raid on TPB) is down, allegedly because of enormous amounts of traffic.
posted by spazzm at 3:27 AM on June 2, 2006


I don't see how MD5 hashes of files are any more infringing than thumbnails on Google Image search.
posted by sonofsamiam at 5:58 AM on June 2, 2006


Indeed, sonofsamiam, hashes are even less infringing. The thumbnail images resemble the images, change the image a little and you change the thumbnail a little.

Hashes on the other hand are in no way similar to the data they are created from, so if you change the data a little you get a completely different hash.

Example:
md5sum The Doors - Break On Through.mp3:
410feaf893416c3f376faef530c215b9
Change the capital 'T' in 'Through' in the ID3 tag to a lowercase 't', and you get this hash:
8e4ad3e055e5bf84f4064666345a9e50

And that's without changing the contents of the actual song in any way.

Worse, there is no guarantee that some other content, entirely unrelated to the Doors or indeed the music industry, generates the same hash as a version of the song.

Even if the probability of mathcing one of the possible hashes of the song is small, keep in mind that there are a lot of possible hashes to of that song.
Changing the title in the ID3 tag (while keeping the length of the title constant and restricting ourselves to alphanumeric characters) gives more than 4.7*1031 different hashes.

Can the copyrigth holders of "Break On Through" rightfully claim that they also have copyright on all those numbers?

If you answer "yes" to that, I'll grant you that it follows logically that .torrent files are copyright infringement.

In reality, hashes (and by extension .torrent files) are not descriptions of a work, or derivatives. They are a tamper-protection (a small change to the original file gives a completely different hash) and file comparision tool (you can check that two files are identical without transmitting the whole file).
posted by spazzm at 3:01 PM on June 2, 2006


They're back up again.
posted by spazzm at 5:20 AM on June 3, 2006


w00t!
posted by ori at 11:43 AM on June 3, 2006


spazzm : "They're back up again."

I was wondering about that. PeerGuardian has added piratebay to the blocked list, and I saw some access attempts from Pirate Bay to my computer yesterday (note: I didn't have any torrent programs running, but I did have SoulSeek running).
posted by Bugbread at 6:35 PM on June 3, 2006


ryanrs:

Hashes are not one-to-one matches. A given file will map to exactly one hash, but one hash will map to more than one file.

This is called a Hash Collision, and it's the fundamental reason that your legal theory is flawed.
posted by odinsdream at 3:39 PM on June 9, 2006


Odinsdream:

Ryanrs isn't saying that it's one-to-one, but that the hash comes from the file, and that therefore the hash is a "derivative work" deriving from the original. I don't really have an opinion on the legal foundation of the argument, but I don't think he was implying uniqueness when he made his argument.
posted by Bugbread at 9:56 AM on June 10, 2006


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