Dutch Collection Society Found To Be Source Of Infringing Content

from the everyone's-a-pirate dept

Remember the story about the composer who found his music featured in anti-piracy ads and had a difficult time getting paid out, triggering a corruption scandal at collection society Buma/Stemra? It was obviously a bit ironic that the music in question was used in anti-piracy ads, but it appears the irony truck forgot to unload a package – filled to the brim with humiliation.

Using YouHaveDownload, a tool that tracks torrent transfers on various public torrent trackers and matches them with IPs, a popular Dutch weblog has uncovered piracy at that aforementioned collection society. They scanned the IP range of Buma/Stemra’s HQ and among the pirated material they found:

The tool only covers about 4 to 6% of what’s available on the networks it tracks, so it’s possible that there’s a lot more sharing evil piracy going on from their offices as well.

If anything, this scandal really shouldn’t be a scandal. Anti-piracy lobbying and campaigning has led to sharing becoming a taboo, while the money spent could have been used to facilitate sharing and to build sustainable business models on top of that. Despite pirates among their own ranks, organizations like Buma/Stemra feel that the Dutch policy of downloading from unauthorized sources for personal use being legal should be altered (read their statement). Even though the Dutch parliament disagrees, the Dutch government is trying to get exactly such laws altered citing EU pressure, even though the Digital Agenda Commissioner, Neelie Kroes (herself Dutch), has stated opposite goals. With people in parliament who do not know “what or who is a torrent,” it’s not entirely unlikely that the govt actually manages to get the law changed after all.

Buma/Stemra was quick to respond and acknowledge that IPs are not reliable to determine infringers. Apparently the IP addresses used for piracy (ending in .246 and .248) cannot be used by employees to access the web internet, so the collection society claims they were spoofed. (Update: their, now removed (cache), statement said internet, instead of web – apologies). Oddly, the IP from which the email with the press announcement was sent, ~.247, hasn’t been spoofed. Did I mention they brought up spoofing after a spokesperson first claimed that the IP addresses could have originated from anywhere in the business park even though everything from ~.240 to ~.255 is linked to Buma/Stemra’s office?

Sure, this scandal is humiliating, but it’s not as embarrassing as the war against innovation. You can use this moment to better understand the human nature of sharing, to understand that downloads don’t translate directly to lost sales, and to rethink your lobbying strategy to push for a more sane framework. Or, you know, you can continue to upset fans whilst amusingly tumbling from one scandal into the next.

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if there are more pirates in disguise amongst hardline politicians, RIAA & MPAA folks, and other classic opponents of more flexible copyright legislation. You all know where to find the tool now, so perhaps it can happen through a lesson about crowdsourcing. That is, have fun and see what you can find…

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Comments on “Dutch Collection Society Found To Be Source Of Infringing Content”

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62 Comments
Joshua Bardwell (profile) says:

Re: Re:

This may be too obvious, but Bittorrent is not “the web”. Or were they using “the web” as a proxy for “the Internet as a whole.” I mean, if they were blocking port 80 and 443 on that IP range, their statement could be true, and they could still have downloaded the files.

This is also consistent with the email originating from an address in that range. SMTP is not “the web”.

btrussell (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Don’t take it seriously
The privacy policy, the contact us page ? it?s all a joke. We came up with the idea of building a crawler like this and keeping the maintenance price under $300 a month. There was only one way to prove our theory worked ? to implement it in practice. So we did. Now, we find ourselves with a big crawler. We knew what it did but we didn?t know how to use it. So we decided to make a joke out of it. That?s the beauty of jokes ? you can make them out of anything.

However, if you have a better idea ? don?t hesitate to contact us.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Oh Noes! You mean that there are some people who work for a collection agency who also pirate? Next you will tell us that some of them are gay, do drugs, or drink.

It shouldn’t be shocking, these are humans. Each of them has the individual ability to think, and they don’t give that up when the come in the door.

It’s a nice attempt to slam, but really just shows that some people will pirate not matter what, even if their job depends on the opposite.

Another AC says:

Re: Re:

Did we read the same article? Because I drew the opposite conclusion.

You draw the conclusion that “[it] really just shows that some people will pirate not matter what”, the rest of the world draws the conclusion that “even their own employees think the company is wrong and piracy is not a bad thing”

Funny how that works 🙂

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

For the hard of thinking here:

The issue isn’t that people within the organisation download illegally, although anyone who does so while working for an “anti-piracy” body is at least a hypocrite if not worse. But, every organisation will contain at least a few such people.

No the real problem is that while these organisation try to force through draconian laws, insisting that sites like YouTube and MegaUpload should be able to accurately filter days of content every second, they can’t even keep their own house in order. Add the icing on the cake that they’re trying the same defence they would deny to anyone else in their “cut off first, allow due process later” schemes.

(Yes, I’m aware that this Dutch agency is not directly linked to the RIAA or SOPA in theory, but they’re essentially singing from the same hymn sheet)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Paul, come on.

If someone takes a job at a collection agency, it doesn’t mean that they also swallow the company kool-aid every morning on the way in. People have free will, and they will do what they like.

Do you expect the agency to filter all of it’s web traffic looking for people using a legal protocol?

Fuck me, you are dense.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“People have free will, and they will do what they like.”

Indeed. But, if the company can’t even police their own offices, how do they expect 3rd parties to do the same for the rest of the world?

The people employed there are representatives of that system. They should be held to a higher standard, not allowed to get away with breaking the same rules they purport to defend.

“Do you expect the agency to filter all of it’s web traffic looking for people using a legal protocol?”

They seem to expect ISPs, on-line service providers, web hosts and internet cafes to do so, why the hell shouldn’t they?

“Fuck me, you are dense.”

I’ll explain in single syllable words if you like, adult discourse is still difficult for you it seems.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

*Ninja fucks AC*

You missed the point as usual. There are two key points in this article whatever your interpretation is.

If you agree that the IPs were spoofed then you also agree that laws such as HADOPI and the Digital Act (UK) as well as their offsprings around the world (NZ and so on) are both useless and unfair because you can have your IP spoofed and used for infringing material. And since we are at the new fashion trends of child porn, you might be accused of child porn without ever having downloaded anything.

If you disagree and believe that their employees really downloaded the stuff it shows that file sharing is so wide-spread that it’s even inside their ranks. Maybe, just maybe /the solution is a better business model/ and not laws that the majority doesn’t agree with (ootb, that /part/ was special for you).

And to close with a golden key:

Do you expect the agency to filter all of it’s web traffic looking for people using a legal protocol?

Funny, that’s exactly what MAFIAA is trying to make the ISPs do around the world. I’d guess that since an ISP being a much larger scale operation should fall under that same question.

Amusing how the pro-copyrights make fools of themselves over and over.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“If you agree that the IPs were spoofed”

I didn’t agree to that at all. Rather, I have a feeling that it’s the old “rogue employee” thing, people probably bypassing security to run their torrent deals, possibly done intentionally to get caught by this project.

“Funny, that’s exactly what MAFIAA is trying to make the ISPs do around the world.”

I didn’t see anyone asking an ISP to filter anything. However I have seen ISPs asked to follow court orders and stop providing simple access to certain sites. Would you care to show what I missed?

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

iiNet vs AFACT in Australia is a good example, AFACT thinks iiNet should know what its users do. Link if it’s too hard for you to search: http://torrentfreak.com/iinet-fights-off-hollywood-isp-not-responsible-for-online-piracy-110224/

I have a feeling that it’s…

I have the feeling Chris Dodd is a passive homossexual but I can’t prove anything. I also have the feeling that the MAFIAA inflates file sharing numbers and does some number scramble with their accounting to make the problem seem worse. Oh wait, my second feeling has been proven already.

And the fact that you don’t agree with the spoofing doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. A lot. I’ve been a victim of spoofing already that got me glined from an irc network. Thankfully I’m there for a whole lot of time now and the ircops saw that the activity was too suspicious to be from me and the spoofing defense got me out of the ban list.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I have a feeling that it’s the old “rogue employee” thing, people probably bypassing security to run their torrent deals, possibly done intentionally to get caught by this project.

PR Guy #1: We’ll just claim our IP was spoofed.

PR Guy #2:What? No, that would allow too many victims of our extortion campaigns a reasonable defense.

PR Guy #1: Well we can just tell them it’s not possible to filter out every possible instance of potential infringement.

PR Guy #2: No way, if we do that, how can we argue organizations 100 times our size can easily do it.

PR Guy #1: Well, that doesn’t leave many options. Perhaps we could claim we were infiltrated by those damn pirates who managed to get a rogue agent hired into our organization to intentionally download illegal content in order to get “busted” by his cronies.

PR Guy #2: Yes, yes. We had a plant who set us up. Brilliant!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Do you expect the agency to filter all of it’s web traffic looking for people using a legal protocol?”

Why not? If they, and other likes them, are trying to tell youtube and the lot that they have to filter all their content for illegal uploads why shouldn’t the collection agency have to keep an eye on its own employees while they are at work?

MonkeyFracasJr (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: "... filter all of it's web traffic ..."

Yes. Yes I do expect them to do that. Because that is a another version of what they expect sites like You Tube to do; sift through ALL the content looking for the infringement. If you are going to make that demand of others you had better already be doing it to yourself!

I know I am making generalizations about supporters of tighter copyright but the point stands.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re:

So let me see if I have this straight.

According to you, we have here a Dutch collection agency that should not be held accountable for the infringement done by its employees using company resources.

Yet with the same breath, the SOPA supporting groups and people claim that Youtube, Flicker, Facebook, Twitter etc should be held accountable for the infringement done by their users?

Hows does that make sense?

Hulser (profile) says:

Secret weapon

Of course things like sex, money, drugs make for a good scandal, but to really achieve a grade A, world class, blockbuster scandal, you need hypocrisy. The politician caught cheating on his wife with a prostitute? Normal scandal. The politician who ran on family values caught cheating on his wife with a prostitute? Now you’re talking!

It may not be enough, but I think hypocrisy will be a secret weapon against stupid copyright laws. Given our current laws, much less the draconian laws being proposed now, it’s impossible to not infringe on some IP on an almost hourly basis. So anyone or any organization which is a vocal supporter of IP maximalism is just setting themselves up for the scandal-ready hypocrisy outlined in this post. You can bet that there will be more of these kinds of discoveries. Let’s here it for crowdsourcing.

Richard (profile) says:

Ammunition

Buma/Stemra was quick to respond and acknowledge that IPs are not reliable to determine infringers. Apparently the IP addresses used for piracy (ending in .246 and .248) cannot be used by employees to access the web, so the collection society claims they were spoofed.

Talk about handing ammunition to the enemy. Next time they try to push for a three strikes law they are going to find that comment coming right back to bite them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Talking about fun.

Mr. Mike Masnick could you please, please run some of the IP addresses you collect from the people who call you a liar and say you are a pirate so we can see what they pirated?

Pretty please, no need for the IP’s, just the list of files that were downloaded.

I want to have a laugh, please, did I mentioned it is xmas?

gorehound (profile) says:

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if there are more pirates in disguise amongst hardline politicians, RIAA & MPAA folks, and other classic opponents of more flexible copyright legislation

They are not in disguise.These folks have been thieving us for to long.They have declared War on us in the USA with their SOPA/PIPA.I am hoping for an appropriate response should these be passed.
1.National boycott of all RIAA & MPAA Releases I MEAN A REAL BOYCOTT that will mean sacrifices need to be made just like in a War.
2.War of the Internet where smarter than me people call out for taking down their Corporate Websites on a regular basis.
3.Using the lawyers and suing for our freedom
4.Investigation and calling out to see the financial records of all who sign these toilet paper bills.

I am a DIY Artist and I will not take krap from any bully.That is how I have to live.I have been picked on many times for my religion or dress or music/style I love.This is just another assault on my lifestyle/music/Art I do.I give all my Art out for free.These arses will shut down the public sites I use to give out my Art.And it will effect every DIY ARTIST out there who would never ever sign with these Big Label ripofff Arses.
I am getting so angry over this.I hate my Government.We must plan a massive March on Washington in 2012.
The Government is nothing but a wing of Corporate USA.It is very nearly all been corrupted.There are very few real people there at this point.
We are in need of some big help.

Keroberos (profile) says:

I love the fact that their defense is the same as the ones they refuse to believe when they’re accusing anyone else of infringement.

IPs are not reliable to determine infringers.

Except when they’re doing the accusing, then it doesn’t matter. They state the owner of the ip address is the responsible party. So by these groups own logic they are guilty of infringement.

Steve R. (profile) says:

Ethics and Law Don't Apply to "Them"

Time-Warner, on its on-demand channel, had a short trailer on the evils of piracy. As expected the trailer promoted compliance with ethics and the law, since you wouldn’t want to “steal” from the poor starving artists.

Not mentioned at all in this trailer is the ever increasing assertions that the content industry has ever greater rights to how content is used, that they are “stealing” from the public domain, that they are changing the law to give them further privileges, the broken-window fallacy, that they are depriving you of your civil liberties to protect their so-called rights.

Only one-sided propaganda. No fair and balanced in that Time-Warner trailer.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 youhavedownloaded.com is a scam

Precisely.

I’ve spot-checked a few dozen IP addresses under my control — static and dynamic — and there appears to be no correlation whatsoever between what traffic has actually involved those addresses and what traffic this site says has involved those addresses.

(And yes, I know for certain what’s really happened: as I said, those addresses are under my control — so you may safely presume they’re firewalled (both directions) and that I have comprehensive logs on them.)

Trails (profile) says:

web != bittorrent

“Apparently the IP addresses used for piracy (ending in .246 and .248) cannot be used by employees to access the web, so the collection society claims they were spoofed.”

Awesome, except bittorrent != the web.

The web is a collection of content and media exchanged over http protocol (conventionally port 80) and http over ssl protocol (conventionally port 443). Bittorrent is a distributed file exchange protocol, and while typically associated with ports 6881 – 6999 it can operate over any port.

Having those ips “blocked for the web” has nothing to do with having them blocked for bittorrent.

“Sir, your car t-boned that bus!”
“But that’s impossible, because my car isn’t a submarine!”

Anonymous Coward says:

212.x.x.x is a public IP meaning it is assigned by a DHCP server from the internet. That implies web access. Also, spoofing IP addresses doesn’t really work very well. The whois network clearly defines what IP addy goes to who. Failure to use the proper IP causes network failure because the computers run into duplicate IPs on the same network and can’t understand two computers with the same name. The internet is a global network, since reusing IPs doesn’t work, they have developed IPv6 to replace IPv4, which adds more IP addresses.

a dutchman says:

It’s even worse in this organisation.

A few weeks ago a boardmember (Jochem Gerrits) of Bume/Stemra apraoched an artist personaly. An music componist (Melchior Rietveld) who’s music is uses internationaly for anti-piracy spots on DVD’s (how ironic). Legaly he can claim a milion euro.
Jochem Gerrits told him he would take care of it and get him his money, but for 33% of the profits. (333.000 euro)

Lucky this rat resigned or got fired but I, as a Dutchman, dont have any trust in this organisation anymore.

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