Microsoft-Funded BitTorrent Disruptor Won't Make Pirates Pay, But Might Break The Law
from the pointless dept
There was quite a bit of chatter recently about a Torrentfreak article discussing an operation called “Pirate Pay,” which was funded by Microsoft, and claimed it could track and shut down unauthorized works being transmitted via BitTorrent. The report claimed that Walt Disney Studios and Sony Pictures were already customers. The description of how it works is as follows:
“We used a number of servers to make a connection to each and every P2P client that distributed this film. Then Pirate Pay sent specific traffic to confuse these clients about the real IP-addresses of other clients and to make them disconnect from each other,” Andrei Klimenko says.
John Pettitt, former VP of engineering at BitTorrent (who we’ve heard from before in a very different context related to software patents), noted in a mailing to Dave Farber’s IP list that what Pirate Pay described didn’t sound particularly effective or (more importantly) particularly legal.
Reading the article it sound like they are spoofing traffic to confuse torrent clients and force disconnects. It’s not at all clear if this will work against all versions of the protocol (particularly the udp based version). Leaving aside the technical issues it’s also unclear if such action is legal. It sounds like a targeted denial of service attack, a major corporation paying for such an attack leaves itself wide open to civil and criminal legal action particularly if they accidentally target the wrong torrent which given the history is highly likely.
Anyone want to take a guess as to how long it will be until a major entertainment company issues one of these misguided attacks on the wrong torrent, leading to an effective denial of service against legitimate content?
One other thought on this. The company’s name is “Pirate Pay,” which I’m sure the Hollywood folks get a kick out of. However, it’s worth asking the question: how much of this activity would actually get anyone to pay? We’ve noted in the past that the entertainment industry seems much more focused on “stopping piracy” than it is on “getting more people to pay.” You can argue that the former leads to the latter but there’s little evidence to suggest that’s true. Yet there is tremendous evidence that offering compelling services without significant restrictions at a reasonable price does, in fact, get people to pay. It’s a tragedy that the industry isn’t doing nearly enough of that, but instead seems focused on these harebrained (and potentially illegal) schemes to attack people.