Would You Believe Copyright Infringement Notices Are Based On Faulty Information?

from the and-that's-against-the-law... dept

This has been pointed out before, but never by an academic study: it turns out that many of the infringement notices that get sent by the big entertainment companies are based on incorrect information, often accusing perfectly legitimate content of being infringing. The study, by some professors at the University of Washington, proved that the notices are sent, rather haphazardly based on whether or not an IP address participates on a file sharing network — and not whether or not it actually uploads or downloads any content. Specifically, these researchers set about to monitor file sharing networks themselves, and introduced a software agent that watched over what was happening — but which did not actively upload or download anything itself. But what happened? The researchers received 400 notices claiming that their IP address had participated in unauthorized file sharing. Basically, as suspected, the industry watchdogs merely list out (easily faked) IP addresses, and use that as their entire body of evidence to file a claim.

So, while this isn’t that surprising, it’s even more proof of just how flimsy the RIAA/MPAA evidence is when they file these suits. Even worse, when this information is the basis of DMCA takedown notices, it’s potentially a violation of the law — as part of filing a DMCA takedown is swearing that you have proof that infringement occurred. The scary thing is that all of this has been pointed out to the industry before — and yet the folks involved still seem to think that they are above the law. For all their moralizing about “pirates” not obeying the law, you would think that they would be careful about making sure they weren’t breaking the law themselves. Apparently not.

Update: Realizing I left out the best part. In showing how the IP addresses can be easily faked, the researchers used the IP address of three laser printers who were then accused of “making available” unauthorized material. Somehow, I get the feeling this particular research paper is going to find its way into a variety of legal battles in the near future.

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Comments on “Would You Believe Copyright Infringement Notices Are Based On Faulty Information?”

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Kiba (user link) says:

Stop Bullying People, K?

Why don’t the MPAA/RIAA have moral themselves and you know…not deprive people of their rightful property, not trying to stomp on the free market, and stop pretending IP agreement as necessary part of free trade agreement(never mind that WTO and USA don’t actually support free trade).

You know..stop coercing and bullying people in general.

We need a revolution! I call for anachro-capitalism!

PaulT (profile) says:

Hardly surprising, unfortunately. One of the reasons I’ve never trusted the evidence behind these lawsuits and DMCA warnings is that they barely seem a step up from when automated “cease and desist” warnings were sent in the late 90s.

There was the infamous case where a Professor Usher was threatened because something mistook a recording of one of his lectures for a new pop single by the artist of the same name. In the same period, a ZX Spectrum website was threatened because they had a copy of the game “Soldier Of Fortune” – the 1987 Spectrum game (I believe legally with the blessing of its author), of course, not the new game of that title.

The only real change here is that the DMCA is being used as the basis for the threat. A decade later, and they’re still not double checking who they’re making threats against, let alone what’s actually being “stolen”. Yet, of course, anyone they sue is still a “pirate” and any life-destroying fine *must* be paid “for the good of the artist”.

John Wilson (profile) says:

Re: File Sharing

Just once, MLS, perhaps you might agree that it’s a highly immoral act (as you claim to be a moral person) to send out false accusations of copyright infringement when the accuser has no proof whatsoever other than being on the Net and part of a torrent swarm.

After all, it is highly unlikely that a laser printer is downloading and uploading two hour movies, is it not?

And it’s not likely that even such a study as you suggest would be believed as, should it find something your world view can’t handle, you would reject it as flawed somehow.

It’s always dangerous when a lawyer claims the moral high ground.



Anonymous Coward says:

I suppose that in the eyes of the “content owners” the end justifies the means and the collateral damage is acceptable so long as it does not directly affect them. However, they seem to under rate credibility as a desirable characteristic. This will, over time, become a big problem when looking for a jury of their peers.

Ken says:

False notice

I removed my bit-torrent and reformatted my comp, and now I’m getting a ~second~ notice of copyright infringement, and about 2 months after the fact, and for the same file???? That’s Verizon talking to the same sources mentioned in this article. Its bogus, and that’s why I’m no longer a customer. Can you read the anger in this? I am pissed.

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