Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

On The Legality Of Tracking BitTorrent Files

from the search-engine-or-criminal-mastermind? dept

A few months back, when the MPAA started going after BitTorrent trackers, some people wondered if those trackers were really doing anything illegal. After all, they weren't hosting any of the unauthorized content. If anything, they were more similar to a specialized search engine, that only found torrent files -- not all of which had to be unauthorized. It appears that the guy who hosted one torrent tracking site is now hoping to use this defense against Hollywood, after receiving a lawsuit from the MPAA (in the UK, despite the charges being in the US). It's a tricky question. Realistically, there are similarities with search engines -- but that hasn't stopped the entertainment industry in the past, and it certainly didn't help the original Napster, who basically made the same argument. While the guy in this article claims he should have the same protections as Grokster, he's missing the one important fact. Grokster got away (so far...) because it didn't have a centralized directory of files that it controlled. That's the only thing many of these torrent tracker sites have. Still, it's only a matter of time until someone writes an interface for Google to just search out torrent files. Then, Google basically becomes a torrent tracking site as well. Will the entertainment industry go after Google too?

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