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ISP Illegal downloading Warnings

Center for Copyright Information ISP Copyright Alert System Fact Sheet and FAQ


July 8, 2011 in Corporate
These are the Fact Sheets and FAQs provided by the Center for Copyright Information regarding their ISP Copyright Alert System, under which a number of ISPs, including Verizon Communications Inc, Comcast Corp, Time Warner Cable Inc, Cablevision Systems Corp and AT&T Inc, have agreed to alert customers, up to six times, when it appears their account is used for illegal downloading.
Warnings will come as e-mails or pop-up messages and could ultimately result in service degradation or termination if ignored.

This is the Memorandum of Understanding provided by the Center for Copyright Information regarding their ISP Copyright Alert System, under which a number of ISPs, including Verizon Communications Inc, Comcast Corp, Time Warner Cable Inc, Cablevision Systems Corp and AT&T Inc, have agreed to alert customers, up to six times, when it appears their account is used for illegal downloading.
Warnings will come as e-mails or pop-up messages and could ultimately result in service degradation or termination if ignored.


BY Rick Falkvinge 9/07/2011 TORRENT FREAK

It doesn't really matter that filters at the DNS level are ridiculously easy to circumvent. The idea is to create a political  environment where censorship of undesirable information is seen as something natural and positive. Once that principle has been established, the next step is to force a switch to more efficient censorship filters at the IP or even the content level.

Congress is full of old men who stopped paying attention to the modern world.

5/27/07 Schlüter's is the Strategy has been set into motion worldwide. The copyright industry is succeeding in creating a fragmented Internet.
Denmark was the first country to censor, the (fully legal) Russian music store, which reopened as MP3SPARKS.CO

Johan Schlüter, head of the Danish Anti-Piracy Group (Antipiratgruppen @johanschluter ). "Child pornography is great," said enthusiastically. "Politicians do not understand file sharing, but they understand child pornography, and they want to filter that to score points with the public. Once we get them to filter child pornography, we can get them to extend the block to file sharing." He was speaking in front of an audience from which the press had been banned; it was assumed to be copyright industry insiders only. It wasn't. Christian Engström, who's now a Member of the European  Parliament, Oscar Swartz, and Rick Falkvinge were also there.
“My friends,” Schlüter said. “We must filter the Internet to win over online file sharing. But politicians don't understand that file sharing is bad, and this is a problem for us. Therefore, we must associate file sharing with child pornography. Because that's something the politicians understand, and something they want to filter off the Internet.”
“We are developing a child pornography filter in cooperation with the IFPI and the MPA so we can show politicians that filtering works,” he said. “Child pornography is an issue they understand.” Schlüter grinned broadly.
This is why you see the copyright lobby bring up child pornography again and again and again. They are using it as a battering ram for censoring any culture outside of their own distribution channels. You can Google the term together with any copyright lobby organization and see them continuously coming back to it.
"We pointed out to [the governor] that there are overlaps between the child porn problem and piracy," Mr. Sherman [The RIAA president] said, "because all kinds of files, legal and otherwise, are traded on peer-to-peer networks."

Sound familiar? It should. It's a page right out of the 2007 scene where the Danish Mr. Schlüter talked about the copyright lobby's policymaking strategy of associating non-monopolistic distribution of culture with the rape of small defenseless children.



Would censorship of child pornography be acceptable in the first place?

Is the copyright industry perhaps justified in this particular pursuit, beyond their real goal of blocking non-monopolistic distribution?
There are two layers of answers to that. The first is the principal one, whether pre-trial censorship is ever correct. History tells us that it plainly isn't, not under any circumstance.
But more emotionally, we turn to a German group named Mogis. It is a support group for adult people who were abused as children, and is the only one of its kind. They are very outspoken and adamant on the issue of censoring child pornography.
Censorship hides the problem and causes more children to be abused, they say. Don't close your eyes, but see reality and act on it. As hard as it is to force oneself to be confronted emotionally with this statement, it is rationally understandable that a problem can't be addressed by hiding it. One of their slogans is Crimes should be punished and not hidden.
This puts the copyright industry's efforts in perspective. In this context they don't care in the slightest about children, only about their control over distribution channels. If you ever thought you knew cynical, this takes it to a whole new level.
The conclusion is as unpleasant as it is inevitable. The copyright industry lobby is actively trying to hide egregious crimes against children, obviously not because they care about the children, but because the resulting censorship mechanism can be a benefit to their business if they manage to broaden the censorship in the next stage. All this in defense of their lucrative monopoly that starves the public of culture.


7/11/11 Why did three of the nation's largest network providers—Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon—sign on to the music and movie industry's "copyright alert" system?
Verizon executive Tom Tauke expressed similar concerns in 2008 that such a process, once begun, would be a slippery slope. "Once you start going down the path of looking at the information going down the network, there are many that want you to play the role of policeman," he said. "Stop illegal gambling offshore. Stop pornography. Stop a whole array of other kinds of activities that some may think inappropriate."
This week's announcement marks one of the more dramatic moves away from the basic principle that network operators don't play policeman in non-technical areas.
White House arm-twisting had something to do with it. As we reported on Thursday, the White House has been credited with "brokering" the deal. It's not clear what that means, but perhaps administration officials hinted that if ISPs didn't agree to a voluntary graduated response system, the administration would throw its weight behind a legislative solution.
McFadden wouldn't comment on whether White House inducements were a factor in Verizon's decision. But those meetings at the White House sound a lot like the "multi-stakeholder process" envisioned in an international report signed in Paris last month. That document explicitly contemplates using the threat of intermediary liability as a stick to get ISPs to "voluntarily" sign up for the role of copyright cop.
Another possible clue to the mystery comes from this Verizon regulatory filing from 2010. After insisting that its existing notification system (without "mitigation") was working fine (indeed, it was apparently quite effective), Verizon added that the system was "based in commercial agreements, in which Verizon benefits from the lawful distribution of content and hence has made millions of dollars of investment in the notice regime on top of the billions of dollars it has invested in its broadband networks."
It's not clear which "commercial agreements" Verizon is referring to, but it sounds like a reference to Verizon's FiOS business, which includes a pay-TV component. Today, unlike in 1998, Verizon depends on copyright holders for access to television content. Perhaps it used participation in that earlier notification program as a bargaining chip to get better terms for the content it wanted—and Thursday's announcement may have been the result of a similar deal.



MPAA, RIAA Team Up With ISPs to 'Alert' Pirates

A breakthrough coalition of the MPAA, RIAA and other copyright holders have signed an agreement with AT&T, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Verizon to curb piracy. Under the agreement the ISPs agree to send “copyright alerts” to subscribers whose Internet connections are used for copyright infringement. Repeated offenders will not be disconnected from the Internet, but could be slowed down instead.
As unofficially announced last month, a coalition of entertainment industry groups and several major U.S Internet providers have teamed up to curb online piracy.
At the center of their plan is a system to notify and educate suspected copyright infringers by sending them so-called 'copyright alerts'.
According to the participants, including the MPAA, RIAA and all major ISPs, the warning system is likely to result in a massive decrease in online piracy in the U.S. All partners stress, however, that the agreement is merely a 'common framework' to deal with copyright infringements and it doesn't oblige ISPs to disconnect users' Internet access.
So what the plan?
The new agreement will streamline the current avalanche of DMCA notices Internet providers are already forwarding to their customers. A third-party will monitor file-sharing networks and collect the IP-addresses of suspected infringers. These will then be added to a database and forwarded to the Internet provider who will send a corresponding copyright alert.
This alert will inform the Internet subscriber that his or her account was allegedly used to share copyrighted content, and how to prevent this from happening in the future. If the same IP-address is spotted again a similar alert will be sent, and only after 5 'strikes' will the Internet provider take action.
The ISPs have several options on how to deal with repeat infringers. One of the suggestions is to slow down their connection speed, but ISPs may also temporarily redirect the customer to a landing page which offers instructions on how to engage in a friendly and educational chat with the abuse department.
Before any of the above sanctions go into effect Internet subscribers have the right to call for an independent review at the cost of a $35 filing fee.
But will it be effective?
Not really. First of all this agreement only covers a few of the many sources of online piracy. The millions of U.S. Internet users who download via cyberlockers are not affected by this agreement at all, as these downloads are impossible to track by third parties. The same is true for the many online streaming portals which have become very popular recently.
The agreement is mainly targeted at BitTorrent users, but these can also bypass the copyright alerts quite easily. Signing up for a VPN or proxy does the trick, and the same is probably true for more obscure private BitTorrent trackers which are less likely to be monitored.
A recent survey in France, where Internet users can actually lose their connection, revealed that the new agreement might not be worth the cost. Only 4% of the polled file-sharers said they stopped sourcing music from illegal services out of fear of detection. In the UK, a recent survey by an ISP revealed similar results.
Despite the relative ease with which copyright infringers can bypass the warning system and the lack of deterrence, all parties involved are ecstatic about the new agreement.
“This groundbreaking agreement ushers in a new day and a fresh approach to addressing the digital theft of copyrighted works,” RIAA's Cary Sherman trumpeted in a comment.

We have our doubts.



The six ways you can appeal new copyright "mitigation measures" By Nate Anderson
Under the new voluntary antipiracy regime agreed to this week by Internet providers, users who receive a first "alert" regarding copyright infringement on their account won't be able to challenge that alert. Nor can they challenge the second alert, or the third, or the fourth. They can only challenge the alerts when they move from "education" to "mitigation" after the fifth or sixth alert, depending on the Internet provider. (RIAA head Cary Sherman told me yesterday that this was because the first "educational" alerts are like traffic warnings rather than traffic tickets; there's no penalty, so who would want to challenge them?)
At that point, before a user's Internet connection is throttled, curtailed, or otherwise hobbled, the account subscriber can pay $35 and appeal to a new independent body funded by the ISPs and the content owners. But the appeals process won't accept just any defense; indeed, the official memorandum of understanding (MoU) governing this whole process describes the six possible defenses the independent reviewer will even consider (they are incorrectly numbered in the MoU and so run up to "vii," but only six items are listed).

Here they are:

(i) Misidentification of Account - that the ISP account has been incorrectly identified as one through which acts of alleged copyright infringement have occurred.

(ii) Unauthorized Use of Account - that the alleged activity was the result of the unauthorized use of the Subscriber's account of which the Subscriber was unaware and that the Subscriber could not reasonably have prevented.

(iii) Authorization - that the use of the work made by the Subscriber was authorized by its Copyright Owner.

(iv) Fair Use - that the Subscriber's reproducing the copyrighted work(s) and distributing it/them over a P2P network is defensible as a fair use.

(vi) Misidentification of File - that the file in question does not consist primarily of the alleged copyrighted work at issue.

(vii) Work Published Before 1923 - that the alleged copyrighted work was published prior to 1923.

Each defense category is governed by specific rules. For instance, if you claim that neither you nor anyone else using your computers or network had downloaded said file ("misidentification of account"), here's how you can win:

A Subscriber shall prevail on this defense if the Participating ISP's and/or Copyright Owner's records indicate, upon Independent Review, that a factual error was made in

(1) identifying the IP address at which the alleged copyright infringement occurred and/or (2) correlating the identified IP address to the Subscriber's account. In reviewing the Participating ISP's or Copyright Owner's records, automated systems for capturing IP addresses or other information in accordance with Methodologies have a rebuttable presumption that they work in accordance with their specifications, unless the Independent Expert's review of any such Content Owner Representative Methodology resulted in a Finding of Inadequacy in which event such rebuttable presumption shall not apply to such Content Owner Representative Methodology.

What about the "open WiFi defense" ("unauthorized use of account")? You can only use it once.

A Subscriber shall prevail on this defense if the Subscriber adequately and credibly demonstrates that the alleged activity was the result of unauthorized use of the Subscriber's account by someone who is not a member or invitee of the household (e.g., via an unsecured wireless router or a hacked Internet connection) of which the Subscriber was unaware and that the Subscriber could not reasonably have prevented. The foregoing sentence notwithstanding, the Reviewer may in his or her discretion conclude that a Subscriber is entitled to prevail under this defense despite the Subscriber's failure to secure a wireless router if the Reviewer otherwise concludes that the Subscriber adequately and credibly demonstrates that the alleged activity was the result of unauthorized use of the Subscriber's account by someone who is not a member or invitee of the household of which the Subscriber was unaware. In determining whether this standard has been satisfied, the Reviewer shall consider the evidence in light of the educational messages previously provided by the Participating ISP. Except as set forth herein, this defense may be asserted by a Subscriber only one (1) time to give the Subscriber the opportunity to take steps to prevent future unauthorized use of the Subscriber's account. Any subsequent assertion of this defense by a Subscriber shall be denied as barred, unless the Subscriber can show by clear and convincing evidence that the unauthorized use occurred despite reasonable steps to secure the Internet account and that the breach of such security could not reasonably have been avoided. [emphasis added]

Should you win one of these challenges, you get your $35 back and the "alert" is taken off your account, though no other alerts are. Your next alert will therefore begin the "mitigation" process once more.

These alerts do eventually expire; any subscriber who makes it 12 months without receiving a notice has their slate wiped clean.

If you fail here, prepare to be mitigated with extreme prejudice. ISPs can basically pick their preferred punishment, but the MoU offers a few tasty ideas, including:

( a ) temporary reduction in uploading and/or downloading transmission speeds;

( b ) temporary step-down in the Subscriber's service tier to
(1) the lowest tier of Internet access service above dial-up service that the Participating ISP makes widely available to residential customers in the Subscriber's community, or
(2) an alternative bandwidth throughput rate low enough to significantly impact a Subscriber's broadband Internet access service (e.g., 256 - 640 kbps);

( c ) temporary redirection to a Landing Page until the Subscriber contacts the Participating ISP to discuss with it the Copyright Alerts;

( d ) temporary restriction of the Subscriber's Internet access for some reasonable period of time as determined in the Participating ISP's discretion;

( e ) temporary redirection to a Landing Page for completion of a meaningful educational instruction on copyright

Our take: After years of complaining that dragging people through federal litigation and securing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage awards was about the most asinine (and unfair) way possible of dealing with the P2P file-sharing issue, it would be churlish not to admit that this is step up from such a low bottom. The federal court system, where all copyright claims are heard, was never made to handle mass litigation against millions of people, many without the money for lawyers, over petty instances of infringement (even if they may not be so petty in the aggregate). There's just no possible way that six warnings, followed by a speed throttle, could be worse than what happened to people like Jammie Thomas-Rasset and Joel Tenenbaum.
And the new mechanism is set up in a fairly careful way, with its emphasis on notification and its creation of a centralized (and allegedly independent) body vetting P2P detection mechanisms and making sure that they are accurate. (Given the numerous false positives we've seen over the years, this is surely a good thing.) It also downplays disconnection as a possibility, and we suspect (and hope) that American ISPs will rarely disconnect users over noncommercial IP issues.
But none of that means the new approach is an actively great idea, either; ISPs playing copyright cop, with a presumption that all allegations are legitimate, is a dangerous way to go once we move from education into non-judicial punishment. It sets a bad precedent for network intermediaries that may well come back to haunt them, like Marley's ghost, in the years to come. This is not how we want the Internet of the future to look, policed by intermediaries who assume the validity of incoming complaints and who dole out private justice over a such a crucial communications link.

ISPs/Content Providers ~ Bob Lefsetz
Beware of the copyright bullies.
Mickey Mouse was about to go into the public domain. So what did Michael Eisner, head of Disney, do? Pay his lobbyists to get an extension of copyright. Yup, it was just that simple. That's how America works. Is it good for the public? Don't ask that question, otherwise you'll be questioning our entire government.
Not that this agreement is law. But it was brokered by the government. Obama wanting to pay off the lefties he can count on to support his reelection campaign. Hell, Rahm Emanuel's brother runs WME, need I say more?
This policy is so wrongheaded it makes me wonder if the copyright holders have lived through the last ten years.
Let's see. You kill Napster and it's replaced by KaZaA. You kill KaZaA and it's replaced by Limewire. You kill Limewire and it's replaced by BitTorrent. You attack the Pirate Bay and now infringers use lockers...RapidShare, Megaupload, they're multiplying like rabbits.
In other words, why don't we go back to Vietnam. Spend a bunch of money to push back an indeterminate enemy whilst putting out press releases stating that we're on our way to victory!
Ten percent of the people will always steal. I'm quoting the aforementioned Mr. Eisner here. Forget 'em, write 'em off, they're never going to pay, they're the same people who wanted to borrow your vinyl records to make cassettes but never bought an album themselves.
The rest of the public? People are interested in convenience, a better offer. Apple products are more expensive than the competition's, why does the company keep winning? Because the perception is their wares re superior and you've got less downtime due to viruses/worms/complications...
Hell, if the content industries really wanted to triumph they'd offer help lines, genius bars, both physical and phone, hell, allow people to IM, helping them with the use of new content delivery systems.
That's how you win the war. By going where the people are, by leading them into something better.
Stop focusing on today's margins. Will you make as much money tomorrow? I don't know, but if you keep holding back the future you certainly won't. Our nation's business history is an endless river of innovation, throwing off revenue streams inconceivable previously. There's no YouTube without broadband. Where is our national broadband policy? Where are the lightning speeds of South Korea? Content industries don't want them, because you can deliver a movie in minutes. But did you ever think as a result you'd end up with new revenue streams, like Hulu, which is about to pass half a billion dollars a year in revenue!
And this newfangled policy is essentially toothless. And it assumes that what the content providers say is true, that traders are infringers. But even though this is frequently the case, it's not always true. Do you like a country where you're guilty until proven innocent? What happened to the American way? What about holding that terrorist suspect on a ship for months without charging him? What happened to habeas corpus? Is America so afraid that it's willing to throw out the rule of law? Don't you want to be able to depend on the system if you're charged unnecessarily?
If one guilty person goes free that's better than killing an innocent man. But not in the content world, where there's a scorched earth policy trying to jet an entire nation into the past, an entire world.
The issue isn't piracy, it's content providers' inability to deliver their product in a way the public wants to use it.
Release those movies online for a low price day and date. If it impacts exhibitors, so what. Isn't this what got the music industry in trouble, delaying digital sales to placate Wal-Mart? And what does Wal-Mart do, shrink floor space, order fewer SKUs, huh?
Lower the price of music. Yup, music's overpriced, hate to tell you that. What's better, to get a few people to pay a lot and have the rest steal or getting everybody to pay a little. Don't fight on principle, be practical.
The RIAA has been wrong time and again. The RIAA should not be fighting digital piracy, it should be bopping copyright holders over the head to license innovative startups. Furthermore, what's hip today is passe tomorrow. Yesterday it was Pandora, today it's Charge now, ride into the future with innovators, don't try to maintain your old business model.
And too many of the artists are on the wrong side. So busy making their music, they're clueless as to digital realities. Filmmakers are the worst, especially the successful ones. I'm gonna let you in on a secret, digital allows everybody to play, from the wankers to the iconoclastic geniuses. The major labels have hemorrhaged market share to indies as a result of digital home recording and digital distribution. The movie business wants to maintain its monopoly. They're not fighting for the people coming up, but trying to keep them down.
The truth hurts.If you think the major label or the big studio is on your side you've never had a success with either. If they pay at all, it's a fraction of what you're owed.

And streaming is the future anyway. Focusing on downloads is like focusing on pirate CDs. Wait, they're doing that! They want to circumvent the law to prevent it! What next, a campaign against illegal 78s? Wax cylinders?
If the music business were smart, and it's not, it would lower digital track prices by two-thirds, have a going out of business sale. And that's what's happening, streaming is here to replace it. Digital tracks are like ringtones, a momentary business. And if we had that aforementioned national broadband policy we could deliver hi-res files, getting people to buy what they've already purchased all over again, like we did with CDs!
Do you want to give up your e-mail? Do you want to be limited to a BlackBerry in an iPhone world? How about killing on demand TV and the Slingbox and every other innovation that makes consumption of copyrighted material easier. That's what the content providers want, the old model.
But the people do not. The people are pissed at the copyright bullies. These corporations would do better to make peace instead of war. Spotify is a piracy killer. But what does Warner do? Refuse to license it! As if anemic initial streaming royalties should be forgone to keep the CD alive. This is like refusing to license 8-track duplication because you don't want to kill vinyl records. Yes, the labels outsourced 8-track production, until they realized tape was the future and built their own duplication facilities which are now accumulating dust if not completely plowed over.
Let's save TDK. And Maxell. And Nakamichi. Why not? They were profitable, they had employees, don't they deserve to live?
No corporation deserves to live. You've got to earn your longevity. And today's media behemoths are doing their best to eviscerate their futures. Tech is both the problem and the solution. You don't succeed by resting on your laurels, but killing your young and replacing them with newborns. The iPhone is killing the iPod. If Apple were run by Doug Morris the iPhone would be shelved and the iPod would rule until it fell of a cliff and so did the company. Isn't this EXACTLY what happened to Sony? Sony's no longer my first choice in ANYTHING!
The future will come despite the antics of these despots. And it will benefit those not wedded to the past, willing to take risks.
Hopefully, that's you.


The Wrong Side - Bob Lefsetz
Is anybody other than the major labels complaining the Internet has made music worse? That free music has ruined the incentive to create? That if we don't overpay we'll get lousier tunes?

This fiction has been created by a well-compensated class that doesn't realize it's involved in an epic battle between the haves and the have-nots. One they cannot win until they come down off their perch and get into the pit with their customers.
How does it FEEL? That's what Bob Dylan sang. I ask you, how does it feel to get ripped off, paying $12.99 for a CD with one good tune?
How does it feel to be a fan of the band but find out that you've got to pay far in excess of the printed price to attend the show?
What is end game here? What do labels and promoters think is going to change? Do they think they can put all the customers in reeducation camps where they'll be happy to fork over all their cash to a ruling class?
Yes, that's how the fans see the artists. As rich. Why should I buy that guy's music when he's constantly flying around on his private jet, when I read online he grossed double digit millions last year? I'm struggling, he can afford it.
Of course that's an oversimplification of the issues, but that's how the customer sees it, ignorant or not. Wouldn't it be best to educate the customer? And you can't educate him by telling him you've got to make all this money to be much richer than he is. The fan has to be seen as doing you a favor, investing in you to keep you alive, to hear great new music. Buying music and going to a show are completely different from buying broadband service, or milk or eggs. Most people don't even know what brand of eggs they consume, but try to get them to go to a show of an act they don't enjoy, or don't even know, it's impossible.
Lady Gaga has got this right. From the very start, she positioned herself on the side of her fans, her Little Monsters. She fought the big bad Target on behalf of her homosexual followers. Gaga is about doing what's right instead of what's expedient.
Honesty, transparency, access and trust. Those are the bywords of business today. But where are they found in the music business?
You want the album but if you buy it at iTunes or Amazon or Target it's different, you can't get all the tunes you want. Huh? This is good for the fan how?
You've got to join the fan club or get an AmEx card to get a shot at a good seat. That's like having to buy a personal seat license to go to the supermarket.
How did we go so wrong?
A culture of greed. And people ascending the ladder and feeling entitled to their new lifestyle.
This is hampering not only music, but all of America. People want jobs. When Goldman Sachs complains about regulations no wonder the people hate them, they're so rich!
Do you see Steve Jobs posting about his wealth?
How about Warren Buffett. Actually, he testifies for higher taxes, for more equitable distribution of wealth, he's pledged to give his fortune away, isn't it interesting that he gets a public pass, even though some of his dealings are questionable.
The content industries get no pass, because of their horrendous record of egregious behaviors.
The customer is king. He'll pay a fair amount for what he wants. Don't try to trick him into buying crap through subterfuge, the Internet was built to ferret out such duplicitous behavior.
Being a successful act is about pleasing fans. Sure, you might employ radio and press to get to this spot, but if you think that radio and press are your friend, just call them up when you're broke and on the bottom. A fan will come right over, buy you a meal, cover you in his blanket. The fan believes you're still number one.
A fan does not care if you're rich if he believes you earned it, and he helped build you. But don't be greedy. That turns off the rank and file.
There's an illusion in this country that because corporations control the government, because the rich employ lobbyists and get their way, that the elite run this country. This could not be more wrong. The people run this country, the rank and file. Who now have access to information on the Internet.
People don't feel bad about stealing movies or music. It's not like any of these companies have gone out of business, and look at the outrageous salaries paid Lyor Cohen and Irving Azoff, you're gonna feel sorry for Warner Music or Live Nation?
If you believe the public is an ungrateful bunch of thieves you're gonna get the biggest wake-up call of your life. You'd better cash out now and hide your money, go live on a desert island. Because it's all going topsy-turvy. You're either with us or against us. Either you're giving us free material to go with the stuff we pay for, either you're getting me into the show at a fair price, or you're the enemy.
The public is ahead of the businessmen and the acts. If you want to survive, get on the people's side.

Judge Decimates BitTorrent Lawsuit With Common Sense Ruling
In an ongoing BitTorrent lawsuit of particular interest, in which the plaintiff's lawyer has already refused to comply with a court order demanding to know how much money is being made from settlements, a judge has now dismissed all but one of the defendants. This welcome news for more than 5,000 John Does is further augmented by a wave of criticism from the presiding judge who clearly understands “copyright-troll” style lawsuits.
The case has become particularly interesting during the last couple of weeks. Judge Bernard Zimmerman's criticism has been developing on a number of fronts include a general lack of progress, issues of jurisdiction, joinder, and the nagging feeling that the court is being used a collection agency – i.e a means to an end of achieving cash settlements from BitTorrent users. Now, following Ira M. Siegel's late and incomplete filing in response to a court order in late August, Judge Zimmerman has dealt a crippling blow to the case by dismissing all but one of the 5,000+ defendants.


RIAA Starts Going After BitTorrent Sites
For years BitTorrent sites have remained untouched by the RIAA's legal battles, but recent court filings indicate that this may change. After settling their dispute with LimeWire earlier this year the RIAA is now targeting several BitTorrent indexers. The record industry group has filed a complaint at the U.S. District Court of Columbia and has obtained subpoenas to reveal the identities of individuals behind three large torrent sites.
Historically the RIAA's litigation campaigns have focused mainly on individual file-sharers and P2P-software and services such as LimeWire.
Unlike their counterparts at the MPAA, BitTorrent sites have not been prime targets for the recording industry association's lawyers. However, recent court filings obtained by TorrentFreak show that the RIAA might have just changed course.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia has granted a request from the RIAA to subpoena the privacy protection services utilized by three large torrent sites. The site owners use these services to hide their personal details from otherwise publicly available WHOIS domain records, but the RIAA wants to know who they are dealing with.
The targeted sites are, and, which all have hundreds of thousands of daily visitors. According to the RIAA, these sites are infringing on the copyrights of many artists.
“We believe your service is hosting the above-referenced website on its network. This website offers direct links to files containing sound recordings for other users to download by such artists as Lady Gaga, Micheal Jackson, Coldplay, Madonna and Kanye West,” the RIAA writes in a letter to
“As stated in the attached subpoena, you are required to disclose to the RIAA information sufficient to identify the infringer. This would include the individual's IP-address and e-mail address,” the RIAA adds.
One of the torrent site operators targeted by the RIAA told TorrentFreak that the subpoena comes as a surprise. He always responded swiftly to RIAA's DMCA requests while the court documents suggest that he hasn't been cooperative at all.
“The RIAA has sent us several DMCA requests in the past and we always honored these,” Bitsnoop's owner informed us. “Apparently that wasn't enough, so now they pull this stunt.”
At this point it is unknown what the RIAA is planning to do once they obtain the personal information of the site's owners. Although it could theoretically be the beginning of a full-fledged litigation campaign against the torrent sites, it seems more likely that the subpoenas will be used to pressure and threaten operators.
During the past year several music industry associations in Europe and Asia have sent requests to domain registrars with a similar objective. The ultimate goal is to make it harder for BitTorrent site operators to continue their business by putting pressure on them, and the companies that provide services to these sites.
A good example is the following sentence in the letter to, which goes far beyond the attached subpoena for information.
“We are asking for your immediate assistance in stopping this [linking to torrent files] unauthorized activity. Specifically, we request that you remove the infringing files from the system, or that you disable access to the infringing files, and that you inform the site operator of the illegality or his or her conduct.”
Whatever the true motivation of the RIAA is, with the recent news about domain seizures, extradition requests and these recent subpoenas, operating a BitTorrent site has become a stressful job. Whether this will have the desired outcome for the music industry group in the long run remains to be seen.
TorrentFreak asked the RIAA to comment on our finding but we have not received a response.

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