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To Media Companies, BitTorrent Implies Guilt

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the law-and-disorder dept.

The Internet 381

kripkenstein writes "The big media companies immediately assume you are guilty by your mere presence on a BitTorrent swarm, an investigation by a university security worker reveals. Turns out companies like BayTSP (which the media companies employ) will send shutdown notices to ISPs without any evidence of copyright infringment; all they feel they need is an indication that you are reported by the tracker to be in the swarm." From the post: "For my investigation, I wrote a very simple BitTorrent client. My client sent a request to the tracker, and generally acted like a normal Bittorrent client up to sharing files. The client refused to accept downloads of, or upload copyrighted content. It obeyed the law... With just this, completely legal, BitTorrent client, I was able to get notices from BayTSP. To put this in to perspective, if BayTSP were trying to bust me for doing drugs, it'd be like getting arrested because I was hanging out with some dealers, but they never saw me using, buying, or selling any drugs."

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381 comments

FROSTY PISS! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17936006)

Choose your ISP wisely and you won't run into these problems. The issue is that your ISP rats you out. Go find one that respects your privacy a little better.
 

Re:FROSTY PISS! (1)

ack154 (591432) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936036)

That's a good option for those that may actually have a choice. But it may not be so easy for others - often there is only one (feasible) option available. Of course, that depends on your location most of all...

Move house to switch ISPs? (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936052)

Choose your ISP wisely and you won't run into these problems.

Should people really have to choose where to live based on the ISPs available in the area? Often, there is only one or there are only two ISPs in a particular geographic area apart from dial-up: the local cable television provider and the local land-line telephone provider.

Re:Move house to switch ISPs? (4, Informative)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936152)

You're lucky to have DSL service on that landline. A lot of people live outside of DSL range and are stuck with Cable for the most part. There are various wireless solutions, but they almost invariably suck for one reason or another (a big one being that the spectrum is just plain limited). There are lots of people that are lucky to have a single broadband option where they live, so they'd better hope that the guys are dicks (Whoops, non-dicky behavior and local monopolies don't go together at all).

At least with DSL you DO have some choice. The phone companies don't want to tell you this, but they're required to share the lines with competitors because it was your tax money that put up a lot of those lines to start with. If your DSL company is jerking you around, you can often switch to Covad or Speakeasy or some other provider and tell your phone company where they can stick it. Beware that most third party DSL providers are more expensive than the phone company, but they generally have much better service and TOS to make up for it.

Re:Move house to switch ISPs? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17936316)

The phone companies don't want to tell you this, but they're required to share the lines with competitors because it was your tax money that put up a lot of those lines to start with.

Not anymore they don't. The FCC ruled about 2-3 years ago that starting at that time if the phone company made any improvement to your line at all, it no longer had to lease it to a competitor at cost.

They called this "deregulation" since, after all, it was regulations that was forcing phone companies to share.

Re:Move house to switch ISPs? (1)

GreenEnvy22 (1046790) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936388)

"Stuck with cable" is a relative term. In my area I can get cable, DSL from multiple providers (though all run on Bell's equipment), or microwave wireless.

The wireless is expensive and slow, so it's out. DSL offers 3mbps for $45/month. Cable offers 10mbps for $45. I think I'll stick with my cable.

Re:Move house to switch ISPs? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936180)

Should people really have to choose where to live based on the ISPs available in the area? Often, there is only one or there are only two ISPs in a particular geographic area apart from dial-up: the local cable television provider and the local land-line telephone provider.

And to follow his logic, each time the ISP changes hands or changes their ToS you should move again.

There's a reason we developed utilities regulation. Too bad the companies can't help themselves from behaving like asshats to make it necessary.

Come on... (4, Insightful)

ack154 (591432) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936010)

Does this really surprise anyone that reads Slashdot? I've certainly come to expect tactics such as this from any media company.

The important part is the proof! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17936248)

Yeah, that doesn't surprise us any, but it DOES provide proof. Why is that important? If you happen to get sued by them, it undermines their case!

This could, in theory, be introduced as evidence in a case and might be enough to shoot down their allegations of copyright infringement. I'd say that THAT is pretty important, wouldn't you?

Here's to hoping that it screws up a few of their copyright infringement lawsuits!

Re:The important part is the proof! (2, Insightful)

ack154 (591432) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936408)

IMO, it would only undermine their case if the judge understands what is going on... not necessarily in all situations. But as per usual Slashdot commentary, IANAL. So I could be wrong.

But ya, important in a sense that we know it's proof, but I would be very interested in seeing how it might actually help someone - or if it even would.

Seriously, anyone surprised? (-1, Redundant)

the_macman (874383) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936020)

Seriously, is anyone surprised? It's not like they claimed to have a scientific approach to lawsuits and letters to ISPs. I don't know what's worse, that I'm not surprised or that they continue to get away with it? :( -JT p.s. first post?

Absolutely (2, Insightful)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936022)

One of the best ways of getting arrested and released - repeated - is to hang around with drug dealers and users when they are dealing and using.

Sure, you are going to get released most of the time. But it is going to be a significant hassle for you. You got to choose that course when you chose your dealing and using friends.

I believe the same is applicable to BitTorrent.

Compare to legitimate drug dealers? (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936092)

One of the best ways of getting arrested and released - repeated - is to hang around with drug dealers and users when they are dealing and using.

If I use my PC to connect to a BitTorrent tracker that offers legitimate free software, free media, and fair-use parody media, I still get a notice. This is as if I were to get arrested for hanging around outside a legitimate drug dealer such as CVS [wikipedia.org] or Walgreens [wikipedia.org] or Rite Aid [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Compare to legitimate drug dealers? (1)

dextromulous (627459) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936246)

"This is as if I were to get arrested for hanging around outside a legitimate drug dealer such as CVS or Walgreens or Rite Aid."

Arrested for loitering?

I kid, I kid

Re:Compare to legitimate drug dealers? (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936390)

Good try, but no. If you are part of a swarm for this legitimate software, then you're not going to be part of the swarm that's hit upon. The issue is when you connect to a swarm that's sharing software illegitimately.

So, no, it's not like that at all.

Re:Compare to legitimate drug dealers? (3, Insightful)

bperkins (12056) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936588)

I'm a bit confused about the orginal article.
What I _think_ he is claiming is that if connects to a swarm that is downloading an illegal file, but doesn't actually downlaod or upload anything, he still gets a notice.

While I understand that he may have a technical argument to avoid conviction, I don't think this means you have much of a chance for getting caught if you share a legitimate file.

I'd say his analogy that it's akin to hanging out with drug dealers isn not apt. It's more like hanging around on street corners intentionally taking something that looks like money for something that looks like drugs and complaining that you got arrested.

Again, I might be missing something.

Re:Compare to legitimate drug dealers? (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936600)

Its obvious the mods didn't understand the article, there's no way your comment should be +5 insightful. As Achromatic pointed out above, just connecting to a specific tracker is not enough to get blocked. You have to be connected to the particular swarm that is sharing a copyrighted work. Just because [sometracker] has some screener on it, does't mean that connecting to it gets you accused of sharing that work.

Re:Absolutely (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17936116)

And you honestly see no problem with guilt by association?

Anyway, being targeted for notices based on appearance in a swarm is more like being arrested for being in a neighbourhood frequented by drug users, not necessarily hanging out with drug dealers.

Re:Absolutely (1)

shawb (16347) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936268)

Are you white? If so, go to the ghetto and drive around for a while. There's actually a pretty good chance that you will be stopped by the police, and asked if it's all right to search your car. Refusal of the search is often held up as suspicious enough to demand a search. This goes doubly so for areas frequented by prostitutes.

Re:Absolutely (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936596)

Are you white? If so, go to the ghetto and drive around for a while. There's actually a pretty good chance that you will be stopped by the police, and asked if it's all right to search your car. Refusal of the search is often held up as suspicious enough to demand a search. This goes doubly so for areas frequented by prostitutes.

I never noticed that phenomenon. I am white, and I used to drive to the 'hood all the time to visit my girlfriend there. The main drag there was prostitute central. But I didn't get pulled over. She's moved to another neighborhood now -- you just don't realize how much you miss the gunfire till it's gone.

OTOH, when non-white people visit my peaceful suburb, a police stop (with backup called) is de rigeur. Maybe the cops consider that justifiable punishment for wanting to shop at the supermarket with non-jacked-up prices.

Re:Absolutely (1)

Homr Zodyssey (905161) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936380)

I would say its more like getting arrested for having rolling papers in your pocket. Sure, most people who have rolling papers use them to smoke weed. However, they can and are legitimately used for hand-rolled cigarettes which are a less expensive alternative to pre-rolled ones. Should I be arrested for having rolling papers and no weed? What if I have rolling papers, and a pouch of tobacco?

Re:Absolutely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17936250)

You got to choose that course when you chose your dealing and using friends.

Riiiight. This is exactly the kind of acceptance and apathy that sends the justice system off the rails.

Treating, even temporarily, innocent folks like criminals because it's "easier" to enforce laws that way is something to be fought.

Re:Absolutely (4, Insightful)

grimJester (890090) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936462)

Yes, using any p2p software is suspect. Actually, just like if you purchased a means to store data [wikipedia.org] , you should pay a tax just as if you were guilty. Guilty of what!?!? . Doesn't matter. You must be guilty of something. Like playing World of Warcraft [wikipedia.org] .

Invalid metaphor (1)

sterno (16320) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936528)

The drug metaphor should really be that you get picked up by the cops for getting a legal prescription filled at your local Walgreens.

The problem with all of this is that it costs those companies a pittance to send out those take down notices and it causes a lot of trouble for the people who get them. The burden should be on them to have solid evidence and, if they don't, to leave people the hell alone.

Re:Absolutely (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936634)

One of the best ways of getting arrested and released - repeated - is to hang around with drug dealers and users when they are dealing and using.

Oh, crap. A fried of mine is a pharmacist.

Just like VCRs (4, Insightful)

Jabrwock (985861) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936032)

Anyone who buys a VCR is CLEARLY only interested in pirating as many movies as they get their hands on, camcorder owners are only interested in filming screeners, people who run spyware scanners and firewalls obviously have something to hide, and anyone who asserts their rights is obviously doing something illegal...

Re:Just like VCRs (1)

jb.hl.com (782137) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936312)

Yes, but as I posted elsewhere, what exactly were these torrents of? Was it a legal download (e.g. a Linux ISO) or an illegal one (e.g. copyrighted movie)? If the former, then yes this is wrong, however in the latter case it's a little more understandable...in the absence of any indication of what a user has downloaded or uploaded, how else are you supposed to tell if someone is trying to download something other than their being connected to a torrent for that something?

Re:Just like VCRs (3, Interesting)

Nos. (179609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936530)

If you read the article you'll see that he connected specifically to torrents of questionable legality, ones he believed were being monitored:

I placed this client on a number of torrent files that I suspected were monitored by BayTSP

Its not like they block everyone going to thepiratebay.org, only people who appear to be partaking in the sharing of a copyrighted work. I'm not saying this tactic is a good one, just not quite as bad as its being made out to be.

Re:Just like VCRs (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936452)

VCR has timeshifting, camcorders have home videos, spyware scanners and firewalls have plenty uses, bittorrent has plenty legal sharing possibilities. But what other use has taking part in a copyright breaking torrent? Try telling a cop you're looking to trade some drugs, then when they bust your ass say "I was only kidding, I just said I was" and see how far you get.

Re:Just like VCRs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17936514)

But clearly the only point of timeshifting is to skip advertisements.

Now if we could make a VCR that prevented you from doing that...

Profit!

It is more like (5, Insightful)

qwerty1 (1049756) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936046)

Hanging out in a Pawn Shop. Cops know there are stolen items in there as well as legitimate items. So, anyone going into the pawn shop has to be only there for stolen items. Therefore you are served a warrant. What a bunch of A$$ Hats.

Weak (2, Interesting)

mfh (56) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936352)

If someone adds your IP to a swarm by sending you a mysterious link using a URL shrinking site, how could you possibly have intent to break a law? IANAL, but copyright infringement must require intent, no?

It's a really weak legal angle for them to take, and if it's all they have going for them, most people have very little to worry about (except really long and boring lawsuits that cost way too much money and only enrich the lives of lawyers).

Meh.

Re:Weak (1)

winnabago (949419) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936438)

except really long and boring lawsuits that cost way too much money and only enrich the lives of lawyers

I don't know about you, but I worry about this very much. Especially since I own my own business and have some assets that could easily become tangled in court.

Re:Weak (3, Informative)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936532)

IANAL, but copyright infringement must require intent, no?

No. Copyright infringement is a strict liability offense. Intent is not required.

That's why I pick and choose the laws I obey. (3, Insightful)

FatSean (18753) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936646)

The system is unjust, and getting worse. I simply obey the laws I agree with, and disobey the ones I don't agree with. If the chance of getting caught is high, and the penalty stiff enough, I MIGHT not do the illegal things...but then again I might.

Can't let my 18-year-old son have a beer with dinner? Fuck you, bust me.
Can't trade DVDs in person with my friends? Fuck you, bust me.
Government using misleading statistics to incite fear (and then over reaching legislature) for issues like drunk driving and terrorism? I simply make misleading statements to police when given the opportunity. Alas, it isn't often I get that chance since I moved out of the city.

I can't imagine I'm the only freak like this.

Or.... (1)

tuxedobob (582913) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936058)

To put this in to perspective, if BayTSP were trying to bust me for doing drugs, it'd be like getting arrested because I was hanging out with some dealers, but they never saw me using, buying, or selling any drugs.

Or it'd be like getting arrested for engaging in prostitution (or whatever the actual offense is) if you're seen with a prostitute, even if you haven't actually had sex. I've always been amused by that one, too.

Re:Or.... (1)

amrust (686727) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936260)

To put this in to perspective, if BayTSP were trying to bust me for doing drugs, it'd be like getting arrested because I was hanging out with some dealers, but they never saw me using, buying, or selling any drugs.


I think they call this "acting in concert". You participated by virtue of your actions 'assisting' the crime in question. I don't know if 'assisting' actually means "just being there and not calling the cops".

One of those tricky legal deals, to be sure. I think it's pretty hard to prove in court.

Re:Or.... (1)

HappySqurriel (1010623) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936262)

In many places in the world paying for sex is not illegal if it is between two adults; what is illegal is the act of buying/selling sex in a public place is illegal. This is what makes escorts completely legal and street walking is illegal.

It is questionable as to whether this system is completely fair but the main goals from a system like this is to limit the "Social Damage" from prostitution; in general, prevent people's housing values from dropping because their community is full of prostitutes.

Re:Or.... (1)

physicsboy500 (645835) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936274)

To put this in to perspective, if BayTSP were trying to bust me for doing drugs, it'd be like getting arrested because I was hanging out with some dealers, but they never saw me using, buying, or selling any drugs.

Or it'd be like getting arrested for engaging in prostitution (or whatever the actual offense is) if you're seen with a prostitute, even if you haven't actually had sex. I've always been amused by that one, too.

or maybe being retarded just because you wear a helmet...

wait... that would be the RIAA

Who are the real criminals here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17936062)

Everyone "caught" by these scumbags should band together and file a class action lawsuit against BayTSP.

and this is news? (0)

dirk (87083) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936102)

So let me get this straight. A guy designed a special BitTorrent client to make it look like he was downloading copyrighted material and it's news that he got a letter? He was specifically trying to appear as if he was downloading it to everyone. If I make a substance that looks and smells like pot and then smoke it outside the police station, I'll get arrested as well. If you try and convince people you are doing something wrong, why is it news when they then think you are doing something wrong?

Wrong. (4, Informative)

AltGrendel (175092) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936234)

The client refused to accept downloads of, or upload copyrighted content. It obeyed the law...

Basically, it had the connection setup but kept it idle.

Doing nothing.

And he got a letter saying that he was downloading illegal content while it was...

...doing nothing.

What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17936672)

You expect he's actually going to RTFA? Or comprehend what it's said if in the unlikely chance he actually does?

For a nerd site there sure are a lot of semiliterates here. I'm talking about the parent poster, not you. As to you, you actually DID RTFA. For shame!

Re:and this is news? (1)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936238)

He wasn't trying to make it look like he was downloading material. To continue your analogy, making a substance that smells and looks like pot would be sending false data to the torrent. He didn't do that. His program is observational in nature. It's a bit like calling the cops in the guy with the camera in the back alley because you think its suspicious. It doesn't transfer anything, it doesn't accept anything from seeds. Even if you tried sending garbage, you'd be caught by the md5 hashes and blocked / banned.

If your goal is to examine the nature of torrents and how different goals result in different patterns, a tool like this is vital. It's not at all straightforward that it's unethical or illegal to connect to the swarm to gather user statistics.

Re:and this is news? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936242)

. A guy designed a special BitTorrent client to make it look like he was downloading copyrighted material and it's news that he got a letter?

No, according to the submission, his client logged in to the tracker but did not make any effort to exchange data. BayTSP assumes if you're doing X you're doing Y, and that's normally true, but doesn't have to be. He's trying to make their statistics look unreliable.

You could probably use a client like he describes to do monitoring, network modeling, or test other academic research ideas. Heck, BayTSP probably logs into the tracker to get its data.

Re:and this is news? (1)

dknj (441802) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936572)

you think its okay for media companies to extort helpless people?

example: if someone tried using bittorrent but didn't know anything about firewalls, they could possibly never connect to anyone because they didn't know their machine is firewalled. they live the client running for a day expecting results and they don't transfer a SINGLE byte, in the meantime their client is pinging the tracker. they get pissed at bittorrent and remove it from their computer and return to itunes. a few weeks later they get a letter in the mail saying to pay $1500 or face court. they get scared and paid the $1500 out of little timmy's school fund. this person did not do anything wrong. he made an attempt to do something illegal, but never commited the act. should he still be punished. (analogy warning) if his yugo couldn't do over 55mph but he tried and tried his hardest to break the highway speed limit, should he get a ticket for ATTEMPTING to break the speed limit even though he never did?

a university gets SEVERAL RIAA/MPAA notices a day. if this was a student, say conducting research work, should we allow BayTSP to get away with this? fuck no. so who do we blame? BayTSP for firing off letters to anyone on a tracker or the people who don't stand up to BayTSP and associated companies for what they are doing? Since fear rules nearly everyone, they sure aren't goign to stand up and say they did it (would YOU admit to ordering a RealDoll if the order was messed up and sent to your neighbors?). We need to rally to the government about these companies, but until that happens this is going to be a normal occurance.

btw pick a better analogy, because there's nothing wrong with pot (if you want to have a flamefest we can compare it to legal drugs that do more harm, read: nicotine, alcohol) and i will enjoy wasting your money and my own to get arrested and released until someone realizes our money can be spent in better areas. like our education system

Don't understand the analogy (5, Funny)

letsgolightning (1004592) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936104)

In the spirit of slashdot, could I request that we instead get a car analogy? Preferably one involving hookers... and blackjack. You know what? Forget the analogy.

Re:Don't understand the analogy (1)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936518)

It'd be like pulling up to a hooker in your car and talking with one, but not actually... you know, hooking up with them.

Re:Don't understand the analogy (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936586)

Okay, how's this:

Its like sitting in your Dodge Viper, parked on the side of the street. Along walks a hooker carrying a blackjack. Five minutes later (still parked on the side of the street) you are arrested for speeding. Everyone knows that you don't buy a Viper to go slow.

Bad analogy (1)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936108)

"To put this in to perspective, if BayTSP were trying to bust me for doing drugs, it'd be like getting arrested because I was hanging out with some dealers, but they never saw me using, buying, or selling any drugs."

It's more like being arrested for being a pirate because you own a boat or have been in water. Even if it's a toy schooner and you're in the bathtub.

more like what a cop told me (2, Insightful)

Some_Llama (763766) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936114)

" I was hanging out with some dealers, but they never saw me using, buying, or selling any drugs."

Reminds me of the time i was pulled over, handcuffed, searched, and my car ripped apart looking for drugs because (as the cop said) "I was in the wrong part of town".

The RIAA is behind it all (1)

rickett81 (987309) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936150)

Sounds like something the RIAA or MPAA would try.

They file suit against people because their IP downloaded something. Easily could have been someone leaching an unsecure wireless connection. Even if the **AA has no way to prove it was them, they file suit anyway because their strongarm tactics allow it.

Seems the same to me... (1)

GreyPoopon (411036) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936158)

"...To put this in to perspective, if BayTSP were trying to bust me for doing drugs, it'd be like getting arrested because I was hanging out with some dealers, but they never saw me using, buying, or selling any drugs."

The analogy doesn't sound surprising. Maybe I misunderstand the law, but I believe you CAN be arrested for hanging out with known drug dealers. They can certain search you (probable cause) and can probably make you submit to a drug screening. I just think that if you're actually innocent, they would have to drop the charges. That doesn't keep you from being arrested and fingerprinted, and spending a night or two in jail. It's one of the things I have never been able to get most of the teenagers I know to understand. If you are hanging around with the wrong crowd, it doesn't matter whether you are a participant. Trouble will come your way.


BTW, I think that unlike drug charges, people who lose their ISP *would* have some recourse. The Media Companies are not a law enforcement agency, and therefore *might* be guilty of defamation if they committed libel when telling your ISP that you were doing something illegal. I'm not sure how far you could get with that, though.

Re:Seems the same to me... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17936296)

> Maybe I misunderstand the law, but I believe you CAN be arrested for hanging out with known drug dealers

They might have grounds to search you. As far as arrest goes ... you misunderstand the law.

Not a fair comparison (4, Insightful)

Chris_Jefferson (581445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936160)

You aren't getting arrested for being in a bittorrent swarm.

Also, if you want a fair comparison, this would be like finding a notice board marked "people who buy/sell drugs", copying all the names off it, and putting yours on. Now, this isn't something you should be locked up for, but I think it's reasonable for the police to pop around and ask a few questions.

This kind of technical fiddling really doesn't help anyone, although I'm sure it helps you feel clever.

Re:Not a fair comparison (1)

smbarbour (893880) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936488)

Actually I think a better comparison would be:

If a vigilante group (BayTSP) saw you entering a building that is a known haven for drug dealers/users (BitTorrent) and contacted every cab company (ISP) to blacklist you from taking a taxi.

In these cases, there is no law enforcement activity involved.

Or for another example, if the vigilante group saw you talking to prostitutes and contacted every cab company.

Drug Dealers (1)

adisakp (705706) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936178)

There's a word for people "hanging out with some dealers, but they never saw me using, buying, or selling any drugs". They're called look-outs -- their job is to watch for law enforcement and to notify the dealer so he can get away clean. Of course they get arrested as well if they're caught. Hanging out with any aquaintance while you are knowledgeable of them committing a crime (espcially on a regular basis) and you not stopping or reporting that crime may make you an accessory to the crime. You can't simply "hang out" with a murderer while he's killing people even if you don't get any of the blood on yourself.

Now legitimately using a bittorent client isn't the same at all as hanging out with drug dealers. It's more like stopping in a book store to pick up a book on chemistry and being arrested because the book store happens to be selling child pornography.

Er (3, Insightful)

jb.hl.com (782137) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936194)

These torrents...what were they of exactly? If they were of Linux ISOs or other legally available material, then sure, get angry. But if you're connected to a torrent for movies, games, music etc...well, they can't tell how much you've uploaded or downloaded, can they? Whether you're connected to a torrent or not is the only truly reliable metric that there can be. I mean, if you're seen hanging around with drug dealers and talking to them in places where they tend to deal drugs, isn't it fairly safe to assume you're trying to buy drugs?

Outside of this application, a BitTorrent client designed to not do anything BitTorrent was designed to do except connect to a torrent, how many other people connect to torrents only not to (attempt to) download/upload what's on them?

So, the message here is: don't try to download copyrighted stuff and you won't get sued for downloading copyrighted stuff.

Re:Er (4, Informative)

snarlydwarf (532865) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936278)

So, the message here is: don't try to download copyrighted stuff and you won't get sued for downloading copyrighted stuff.

I think you mean "illegal stuff". I download copyrighted music with BitTorrent quite often and it is very legal: DGMLive has lots of great King Crimson and Robert Fripp material that you are encouraged to use BitTorrent to download after paying them. Since DGM is owned by Fripp and has rights to the King Crimson catalog: they can do that legally and even make a profit.

Re:Er (1)

stile99 (1004110) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936632)

So, the message here is: don't try to download copyrighted stuff and you won't get sued for downloading copyrighted stuff.
I'd ask what color the sky is in that little world of yours, but clearly the only choices are black or white.

However, the world the rest of us live in doesn't operate that way.

Actually I find it quite strange you'd even make that statement here. Why visit here if you clearly read neither the articles nor the comments?

Legitimate research (1)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936218)

There are numerous legitimate reasons for joining a swarm and not participating in the exchange, including doing research like this.

Should it also be illegal for me to drive along a shady avenue downtown and count the number of prostitutes for research on a book or a blog post I'm writing about prostitution in my city? If I ask them if they're prostitutes but don't offer them money for sex, what did I do wrong?

OB Terrorist reference (4, Insightful)

rueger (210566) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936224)

...t'd be like getting arrested because I was hanging out with some dealers, but they never saw me using, buying, or selling any drugs."

Hmmph - sounds like you're on the side of the Terrorists!

There once was a crazy ass country that had laws about "innocent until proven guilty", but in these Terroristic times it's just so much safer to fall back on "Suspicion of being under suspicion."

Guilt by association (4, Insightful)

Bullfish (858648) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936236)

Is coming back into vogue? It never left, the media companies have based a lot of their cases on it. Mostly they make money from the cases where their target simply doesn't have the cash to fight back. Thing is, they want to blame the net for their problems, well, it's true to an extent. Before the net and widespread cable TV, videos and DVD's, they had very little competition. Those were the glory days. Now they unfortunately for them, they are creatively bankrupt as a result of flooding the market with so much crap that a lot of people are going back to 60's, 70's and 80's music. Therefore, a lot of sales of new music suffers and kids are listening to ACDC and Led Zeppelin again.

Ditto for movies, only this time the industry is rehashing old TV shows, old movies and dusting off hackneyed plots that wouldn't see the light of day when they made fewer movies. Kind of like you see what happens to sports leagues with uncontrolled expansion. The more you try to produce in such endeavours, the closer you move to mediocrity.

So their sales suffer. It must be the web's fault. Like an old has-been blaming the new kid on the block, they whine and complain, and in this case lobby. Next, they will be demanding a tithe if you own a computer.

After all, the problem couldn't be with their product.

whatever, they don't case (1)

xantho (14741) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936252)

Look, any time that the media companies can scare people into thinking that they're doing something illegal, then they will do it, up to, and probably including illegal acts themselves. They are not interested in following the letter of the law, or any kind of reason. All they want to do is scare people back into the pre-ordained channels that they have set up, e.g., Best Buy and Fye in the mall.

poor analogy (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936256)

To put this in to perspective, if BayTSP were trying to bust me for doing drugs, it'd be like getting arrested because I was hanging out with some dealers, but they never saw me using, buying, or selling any drugs."


That's a poor analogy, it's even more innocent than that - they saw you with a pipe. I mean the kind that can smoke tobacco, and is often used to do just that. Nothing inherantly illegal about it.

What a crock of bull-poo.

Re:poor analogy (1)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936372)

They saw you with a pipe.... maybe a clean pipe thats never been used.... but your friend that you were hanging out with had a big bag of grass.....

The funny thing is, people can be convicted of stuff like this. There are, in fact, laws against things like "being in a place where heroin is known to be kept". Yup... if its possibly "known" to you that your friend has heroin, it may be illegal for you to hang out with him.... even if you don't use, sell, or have ever touched heroin.

So overall... sounds like they have some pretty good evidence there overall.

-Steve

And? (3, Insightful)

mpapet (761907) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936264)

Don't vote. Don't voice your opinion to the representatives most of you didn't vote for. Don't organize a coordinated political attack on the DMCA and this is what we all get.

For dog's sake don't support the eff either. http://www.eff.org/ [eff.org] You wouldn't want to be marginalized as a zealot, fanatic or crackpot.

[\rant]

So, people can have guns, but... (1)

Zaatxe (939368) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936266)

... not bittorrent! Having bittorrent implies guilt? Imagine when that apply to firearms!

Reminds me of .. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17936270)

Your article on these BayTSP notices reminds me of when large parts of the Windows NT4/2000 source code were leaked. I created a fake "Windows Longhorn Source Code" file which was about 1.2GB in size and full of zeroes, and then shared it on eMule to see how far it spread (quite far, initially.)

A couple of weeks later I received a copyright infringement notice from my ISP for this fake file. They had been contacted by one of Microsoft's agents who obviously conducted their analyses using a method of similar incompetence to BayTSP's.

Huh? (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936280)

Besides this particular individual, who would waste computer resources being involved in a tracker unless they were sharing bits in the torrent?

I thought court cases involving copyright law was based on "reasonable doubt", not "beyond all shadow of a doubt". It certainly sounds reasonable that being on a torrent means there is intent on sharing bits in the torrent.

As for the bit about an individual hanging out on the corner with drug sellers: It does sound reasonable for police officers to question people associated with illegal acts, right?

Re:Huh? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936496)

except bittorrent is being used for legitiment file transfers.

For example World of Warcraft uses a bit torrent to distribute content.

Re:Huh? (1)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936626)

I thought court cases involving copyright law was based on "reasonable doubt",

Only in a criminal copyright infringement case, and those are pretty rare. Ordinary copyright infringement cases use a balance of the probabilities standard, which is a lot lower.

It certainly sounds reasonable that being on a torrent means there is intent on sharing bits in the torrent.

And again, while intent is important in a criminal copyright infringement case, it is irrelevant in a civil copyright infringement case. First, because intent isn't part of the offense; accidental infringement is just as infringing as deliberate infringement. Second, because there's no such thing as intent to infringe; either you have infringed or you have not, and only the latter can give rise to a lawsuit. The only way that intent matters in a civil copyright infringement suit is in calculating statutory damages.

A tool for good, and evil (1)

duffetta (660874) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936306)

BitTorrent is tool, just like fire, guns, and wood chippers are tools. They can be used to good, and they can be used for evil. Possession of BitTorrent doesn't mean that you are using it for evil. In the movie Fargo, it wasn't the possession of the wood chipper that was the problem, it was the way that it was being used.

Oh Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17936320)

It kind of makes me glad I live up in the Great White North (TM). Both of the ISPs in this province (Sasktel and Access Communications; I live in Saskatchewan) refuse to give out any information relating to the identity of users. You can get my IP if you like, but that won't help you track down who I actually am.

Plus, there's the whole fact that sharing files in Canada is a grey area under the law, and you'd have a hard time getting prosecuted for it, unless you're selling the stuff on the streets or some such.

Sorry to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17936324)

It may be impolite in this circle to say as much, but 9 times out of 10, anyone on a p2p network IS doing something (currently) illegal. it makes me uncomfortable to see people defend these technologies for their (again, currently) nearly insignificant "legitimate" uses while blatantly exploiting their ability to provide access to pirated copyrighted material.

but, of course, the laws are old and wrong and need to change. it just seems dishonest to claim p2p should be used for currently legal stuff, rather than restating the poor logic in applying outdated copyright law to modern tech.

So what? (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936360)

it's like diagnostics in C, any conforming C compiler can emit ANY warning they want (whether warranted or not).

BayTSP is not the government (right?) they can issue any non-legally binding warning they want, up to the point they are served an injunction. it doesn't mean you, or your ISP, have to act on its behalf.

Tom

Peer Guardian (1)

Samus (1382) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936362)

I guess this might be due to the success of programs like Peer Guardian? For those that don't know, it is a black listing program that helps you to deny connections from IP addresses known to be used by companies like BayTSP. If you are going to do P2P and download "questionable" content, you should have something like this. It isn't %100 but safer than nothing. Most popular clients will have some sort of plug-in that will do this. I guess it's time now for the trackers to start running this kind of software too.

The other reason (1)

matt me (850665) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936382)

Bittorrent is the primary means of distribution for that filthy, UnAmerican, Communist, no sorry, Terrorist (that's what they tell you now isn't it?) software that is GNU/Linux.

Really bad perspective (1)

gsslay (807818) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936386)

To put this in to perspective, if BayTSP were trying to bust me for doing drugs, it'd be like getting arrested because I was hanging out with some dealers, but they never saw me using, buying, or selling any drugs.


And the problem here is....? If you hang out with drug dealers when the police come calling, you can pretty much rely on getting arrested. Doesn't mean you'll get charged, and it certainly doesn't mean you'll get convicted.


And I don't think BayTSP actually qualify as being comparable to law enforcement agents. This is more like getting sent a letter from your landlord saying there's been complaints that you've been seen hanging with criminal looking individuals and you better not be dealing drugs.

analogy is bad - Devil's advocate (1)

Zen (8377) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936414)

Isn't associating with a known criminal a quasi-valid reason for being arrested? Not necessarily convicted, but arrested.

poor choice of examples for reductio ad absurdum (1)

RalphBNumbers (655475) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936420)

Quoth the article:
"To put this in to perspective, if BayTSP were trying to bust me for doing drugs, it'd be like getting arrested because I was hanging out with some dealers, but they never saw me using, buying, or selling any drugs."

That may not be the best choice of examples for a reductio ad absurdum argument.
Remember, the war on drugs has given us all kinds of asinine laws to let courts prosecute suspected drug dealers that they can't actually catch dealing drugs. Just possessing large sums of cash can be a crime these days, even if there is no evidence that it was gained illegally; that's at least as much of an unjustified leap as claiming that being connected to a bittorrent tracker implies you're actually up/down-loading the tracked file(s).

The only real difference is that legislators made (or at least endorsed) that cash=drugs leap, while the media companies' minions made the more current bittorrent leap.

Watch out for eDonkey as well... (1)

armus (632028) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936432)

I was using eMule (for eDonkey) to grab some files. I forgot about it and left the thing on.
After a couple days, I get this email from my ISP.

Greetings,

We have recently received a report that there has been activity originating from your circuit that is in violation
of the Speakeasy Acceptable Use Policy. The IP address in question is:

xx.xx.xx.xx

The following complaint is concerning copyright infringement from a shared filesystem or server at this IP. We
request that you immediately cease and desist this activity and remove any content that is possibly considered in
violation of copyright laws.

If you are using a wireless network on your Local Area Network, it is possible that it has been compromised. If
you are using a wireless network, we highly recommend you at least take these steps to ensure the security of your
wireless connection:

* Use Network Segregation- place your access point on a separate subnet, with a firewall separating wireless and
internal (wired) users

* Update your access point's firmware

* Change the administrator password on the wireless unit

* Change the default SSID of the wireless unit

* Disable SSID beacons/broadcasts

* Enable MAC address filtering

* Use WPA authentication and encryption

* If possible, use VPN connectivity

Please contact your vendor for further assistance, specific to your wireless device.

Here are a few good links that provide information and best practices for the security of a wireless network:

http://www.lawtechguru.com/archives/2004/08/01_w ireless_networking_best_practices_version_20.html

http://www.giac.org/practical/GSEC/Thomas_Stripl ing_GSEC.pdf

http://wifinetnews.com/archives/002452.html

For your reference, please also visit the Speakeasy Security Zone at:
https://www.speakeasy.net/security [speakeasy.net]

Note: You will need to login to MySpeakeasy in order to view this page.

PLEASE NOTE: Speakeasy, Inc. is legally obligated to forward this notification to you, regardless of the scan
results appearing in the original complaint sent to us. Additionally, we believe it is important for you to be
aware that these scans of your machines are taking place.

It is vital for the security of your personal network and the Speakeasy network as a whole that you address this
issue. If we continue to receive similar reports about your circuit, we will be forced to temporarily suspend your
broadband service until this issue is resolved. Please understand that we consider an interruption in your service
only when it is absolutely required to ensure both your security, and the overall security of the entire Speakeasy
network.

PLEASE ALSO NOTE:
If this is your first notification from abuse@speakeasy.net, there will be no Service Ticket created for this
incident. If there have been abuse incidents reported on your circuit in the past however, there will be an open
Service Ticket on your account. To ensure that your service is not interrupted, it's important that you update us
once you have resolved this issue. Please call Speakeasy Support at 800.556.5829 or login to MySpeakeasy
(http://www.speakeasy.net/myspeak) and update the open Service Ticket referencing this issue.

Please review the relevant portions of our Terms of Service under "Moderations of Use" and "Acceptable Use Policy"
at this link:

Speakeasy AUP/TOS
http://www.speakeasy.net/tos [speakeasy.net]

We thank you for taking the time to address these Internet security concerns,

Network Security Department
Speakeasy, Inc.
abuse@speakeasy.net

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is a U.S. trade association that represents the intellectual property interests of numerous companies that publish interactive games for video game consoles, personal computers, handheld devices and the Internet in the United States and in other countries (collectively referred to as ESA members). ESA is authorized to act on behalf of ESA members whose copyright and other intellectual property rights it believes to be infringed as described herein.

ESA is providing this letter of notification to make SpeakEasy aware of material on its network or system that infringes the exclusive copyright rights of and is unlawful towards one or more ESA members.

Through the Berne Convention and other international treaties covering intellectual property rights, ESA believes that its members' rights in such entertainment software products are entitled to the full protection of the intellectual property law as well as other relevant laws of your country.

Based on the information at its disposal, ESA has a good faith belief that the IP address below infringes the rights of one or more ESA members by offering for sale or download unauthorized copies of game products protected by copyright, or offering for sale or download material that is the subject of infringing activities. The copyrighted works that have been infringed include but are not limited to:

Title: xxxxxxxxxxx
Infringement Source: eDonkey
Infringement Timestamp: 25 Jan 2007 19:12:29 GMT
Infringement Last Documented: 25 Jan 2007 19:12:29 GMT
Infringer Username:
Infringing Filename: xxxxxxxxxxx.zip
Infringing Filesize: 29571403
Infringer IP Address: xx.xx.xx.xx
Infringer DNS Name: dsl0xx-0xx-xx.xx.dsl.speakeasy.net
Infringing URL: ed2k://|file|xxxxx.zip|29571403|2AF95986CA2B5E662E BB76513EC500D9|/



The unauthorized copies of such game product(s) or the material that is the subject of infringing activities appears on or is made available through the above-listed IP address. Those items are listed and/or identified thereon by their titles or variations thereof, game-related listings/references/descriptions, or depictions of game-related artwork. Such copies, titles, game-related listings/references/descriptions, depictions, and material that is the subject of infringing activities, are hereinafter referred to as "Infringing Material."

Accordingly, ESA hereby requests SpeakEasy to immediately do the following:

1. Notify the account holder of the Infringing Material.
2. Remove, or disable access to, the Infringing Material detailed above.
3. Take appropriate action against the account holder under your Abuse Policy/Terms
of Service Agreement, including termination of a repeat offender.

Please inform us whether you will remove or disable access to the Infringing Material as requested. SpeakEasy or the account holder may contact ESA at the above-listed contact details, with email preferred. Please include the above-noted Reference Number in the subject line of all email correspondence.

Thank you for your cooperation and prompt response in this matter.

Sincerely,

Intellectual Property Enforcement
Entertainment Software Association

Worst analogy ever? (1)

tylersoze (789256) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936450)

"it'd be like getting arrested because I was hanging out with some dealers, but they never saw me using, buying, or selling any drugs."

Wow dude, great way to make your case there. I mean who doesn't totally sympathize with people that get arrested while hanging out with drug dealers?

drug bust (1)

deadstatue (1004528) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936466)

the city in which i used to live(Rochester,ny) once sent me a letter in the mail telling me that my car had been spotted parked in a known drug trafficking part of town.and as they had no evidence of the reason i was there(they seem to forget decent law abiding citizens live in the mix of this everyday shit).to make a long story short i was there visiting a friend ,and was told by mail that if i was seen there again that i would be arrested. life sure is fair when you make the rules

Warning to Big Media (Rant) (1)

Charles Gaudette (103519) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936472)

I and my company will, as sure as night follows the day, sue anyone that takes (or tries to take) me off the Internet for using BitTorrent. I use BitTorrent to download things like Fedora Core 6. I need BitTorrent (and p2p in general) for work, and my work is my livelihood. My livelihood feeds my family. I would have no choice but to sue.

If I was a lawyer... (1)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936516)

...with time & money on my hands then I'd set up a tracker for sharing all sorts of F/OSS ISO's via Bittorrent. Then I sue these idiots back to the stoneage for making such unfounded claims.

disagree with that metaphor (1)

PenguinX (18932) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936582)

I disagree with the metaphor, because you aren't really hanging out with "drug dealers" in this case. Instead it's more like you are crossing the street where drugs have been traded, which is sadly how many city streets are from time to time. Although perspective would have to be applied and this would probably be like some distopyan Neotokyo Gotham, but that's another argument altogether.

Scary implications ( and not from the companies) (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936584)

What I found really interesting about the article was the number of ways the author suggested that web sites (and I presuming html-mail) could have the computer that is accessing them register in the tracker. It scares me to think of what could happen if that was incorporated into the next set of whatever you call the self-propogating VB-script-based spam.

And because everyone else has an alternative analogy, this seems most like if a person was caught burglerizing a house, and then claimed you were an accomplice. Reason to investigate further, but not enough to declare even a proponderence of the evidence (the standard in copyright cases) suggests you are guilty.

Ridiculous (1)

kamapuaa (555446) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936590)

That's ridiculous. At least 99% of bittorrent traffic is Linux distributions and homemade techno songs!

Oh wait, at least 99% of bittorrent traffic is piracy, and sending a notice is a reasonable response. If people were getting arrested, the bar of proof would be set a little higher.

selling drugs? bad analogy (1)

HelloKitty (71619) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936602)


bad analogy, because bittorrent can be (and is) used for completely legal things, while "drugs" (as you seem to intend in your wording) are always illegal...

Analogies (1)

kingmundi (54911) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936608)

"To put this in to perspective, if BayTSP were trying to bust me for doing drugs, it'd be like getting arrested because I was hanging out with some dealers, but they never saw me using, buying, or selling any drugs."

The problem with analogies is they break down somewhere, and now you will get many replies showing where it breaks down or offering counter analogies.

tor (1)

MartinG (52587) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936622)

Some people say that proxying all tracker requests via the tor network is a good idea. This news seems to support that suggestion.

If everyone routed all bittorrent traffic (the peer-to-peer part) via tor would clearly destroy the network, but it should easily be able to handle a few people using it for the tracker traffic.

My BayTSP experience (2, Interesting)

sir_larrikin (1020447) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936650)

My experience with BayTSP came a few months ago. My ISP, Adelphia, sent me a notice that they had received a complaint from BayTSP (on behalf of a movie studio), that I was sharing the movie "Mission Impossible 3." I was confused, since I do not trade Hollywood movies. I read further in the complaint, and found the Hash for an eDonkey file, supposedly the movie in question. Checking my "shared" files, I found that this movie was, in fact, a file that was being mislabeled by others that were sharing it. It was not Mission Impossible 3 at all, but an old porno movie.

My repeated emails to my ISP (explaining BayTSPs idiocy) were not acknowledged, so I chose to ignore the entire thing.

mod 3own (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17936656)

Leaving 3ore. I sam3 year, BSD the same operation

Terrible Analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17936664)

This entire conversation has been derailed because of your terrible analogy.

it'd be like getting arrested because I was hanging out with some dealers, but they never saw me using, buying, or selling any drugs.

It's not the same as your current situation. The problem is that you are being harassed for doing something legal, inconsequential, and within your right. You should diagram it out:

it'd be like < bad thing happens > because I <was in the act of doing some innocent thing>

So a correct analogy should be "it'd be like having my house searched for illegal drugs because I have a medicine cabinet." Or, "it'd be like getting arrested for drug trafficking because I have a mailbox."

Illegal? (1)

BobSutan (467781) | more than 7 years ago | (#17936670)

How much work does the **IA have to do to protect themselves from being sued for false infringment claims and legal recourse for improper invokation of the DMCA to a user's internet provider? It seems to me that in this case of his faux BT client, what the content companies have done is broken the law, but not in a realistic sense. As much as I hate to say it, I do not see this helping Joe Sixpack's from being falsely accused. Yes the masses may be able to claim such a client was employed at the time the bots were watching the swarms, but if push comes to shove nobody will really be able to use that as a defense (unless they really were using it for something like research or legit content).
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