(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Carlo Longino

MPAA, RIAA Still Up To Dirty Investigative Tricks

from the hands-up-if-you're-surprised dept

The entertainment industry's tried all sorts of things to fight file-sharing online, ranging from flooding P2P networks with fake files (though that didn't really work out) to apparently seedung them with spyware. One of its favorite tricks, though, is to set up honeypots of fake content or torrents, then capturing IP addresses from visitors and using them as the flimsy basis for their infamous lawsuits. The MPAA -- or rather MediaDefender, a company working for it -- has done this again recently, but going a little further by not just trying to trick people into downloading copyrighted movies, but also by offering visitors a custom downloading "client" that's essentially spyware that scans their machines for copyrighted files (via Broadband Reports) they've downloaded. Of course, "dirty tricks" is a phrase that seems to find itself near the letters "RIAA" and "MPAA" fairly often. Just a few weeks after a lawsuit alleging the tactics used by MediaSentry, another company hired by the entertainment industry, to search people's computers are illegal, another such suit has been filed. A woman in Texas has sued the RIAA, saying it employed unlicensed investigators and knowingly broke Texas laws in doing so. Judges have smacked down the RIAA's tactics before, but that appears to have had little effect on it. At what point do they figure out they don't get to determine what's legal for them to do in the name of investigation? Probably about the same time they figure out that instead of wasting their resources by suing their customers, they should change their business model instead.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Erv Server, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 12:21pm


    The MPAA / RIAA need to be hit with some very hefty fines by the courts so they get the point, a few lawsuits thus far has dome nothing to straighten them out so they obey the law. Maybe millions of dollars in fines would get the attention of a ceo or some boards of these companies.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    annonymouse coward, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 12:28pm

    "millions of dollars in fines" won't even cause them to blink. They have the combined money of the media houses behind them. Think hundreds of millions...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Someone, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 12:32pm


    Spyware, honeypots,and unlicensed investigators... It seems to me that all three of these are illegal in these United States. Why hasn't someone in the MAFIAA been canned, arrested or fined because of this??

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 12:32pm


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    name, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 12:35pm




    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    name, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 12:36pm


    had to do it

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Sanguine Dream, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 12:39pm

    Re: MPAA, RIAA

    There needs to be more than fines, even hefty ones. I think its going to take fines and something like actually pressing charges for their illegal tactics. If a user tricked an RIAA exec into downloading a spyware program onto her/his pc that would scan for files and report back on what it found you best believe that user would be brought up on criminal and civil charges.

    And also along with the fines and charges the judges should start ruling that the RIAA/MPAA has to pay court fees for all the lawsuits they bring into court. Simply speaking the tactic for them has been to "make a settlement offer" to an accused file sharer to scare them into paying up without going to court. And if the person does take the settlement the the RIAA/MPAA will proceed to claim it as one of those "significant blows" against piracy. If the accused goes to court the MPAA/RIAA would try to bog down the case with some much nonsense that the accused would run out of money before a ruling is passed down. If by chance it looks like the ruling will be in favor of the accused then the RIAA/MPAA will try to drop the case and leave the accused buried in so many court costs that they literally go broke trying to pay them. All three methods are meant to leave accused file sharers so broke that reagardless if they file shared or not they are so broke and intimidated that they can't defend themselves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    James, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 12:46pm

    One wonders the obvious...

    ... if they put as much time, money and effort into better content and deliver methods for same, would they even have these kinds of issues?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 12:51pm

    Re: One wonders the obvious...

    very obvious indeed...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 12:51pm

    Maybe I'm wrong, but, hypothetically:

    Say you download software illegally that must be activated online everytime you run it. The software company then sees you requesting activation from a known hacked key or whatever. So, they get your ip and either tell your isp to cut you off or press charges.

    So what's the difference between them doing that, and the MPAA tagging copyrighted movies with software, and using it to get your ip? Legally speaking.

    I don't agree with them installing spyware that scans your machine, or anything else; but, why can't they do what the software companies do?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 1:04pm


    And I get the feeling that when downloading really caught on if they had started marking the music.

    But instead they have resorted to boarderline extortion, lying, falsafied statistics, the desire to use law enforement as it's personl army, and buying custom made laws in order to maintain control of recorded media.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 1:05pm


    With a software company, you theoretically agree to allow them access to your computer as part of the "deal" for using the software. With the RIAA/MPAA, you have no relationship with them whatsoever, so their unauthorized access of your computer is akin to trespass.

    It's the difference between inviting someone into your house vs. an intruder.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Old Guy, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 1:08pm


    There is hope, Texas still executes more people than any other state in the union. hehe

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Edd, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 1:10pm


    Why spend money to make your business better when you can do the fun stuff they are doing instead. But this is what happens when you have CEOs that can't use email; trying to run a business for an extremely technology and information filled society. They'd be better off hiring people that download music "illegally" as a think-tank for how improve their business model.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 1:26pm


    "honeypots of fake content or torrents"

    They make it kinda obvious. When you see a torrent for "Transformers 2007 Movie" with 2754 seeds and 8765 lechers (on 07/03), you know it's fake. Not saying I downloaded it, I was just making a point to a friend.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Suprspi, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 3:20pm

    Worth Reading

    This might be the most worthwhile MP/RIAA centered article I've read on TD in a while.

    I mean...it actually had something to do with technology.


    Not that I mind the non tech related articles...but this is Tech Dirt after all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    BigEd, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 3:20pm


    seedung......See dung....with dung as RIAA or MPAA and we all know what dung is.... I think this was spelled this way on purpose...

    But anyway I just downed a AVI file yesterday of a recent movie and to view it one had to go to a website and download a special viewer to watch it. The catch was that the movie was to new to be released on DVD yet and it says it was a DVDRip.

    Make sure you're using PeerGardian2 with the updates.

    And 'Yes', I do download movies. And I believe in the try before I buy method. And if it's good I'll buy the better quality DVD when it is released. Going to the movies....Cost to much.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 3:25pm

    Chronno S. Trigger... it was released on 7/3 in many theaters, so that was probably a valid copy. The ones to watch out for are the 1 seeder, 100 or so leechers. You have to wonder why no one is seeding.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    neo, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 3:49pm

    More Coporate BS - Period!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 4:11pm


    Went to check it out and found out the site is already parked it seems.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    RIAA/MPAA=retards, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 4:16pm

    Why download?

    Just use a utility like Mactheripper, on mac of course, it extracts every non-hd movie at any rental venue on the planet. I am at 1500 and counting. Every week get a few more, screw those guys, I give copies to all family and friends who ask. Like to see them prove that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Hopeless Charm, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 5:28pm

    MPAA + RIAA + illegal tactics = RICO

    The federal government needs to prosecute these thugs under the organized crime (RICO) statutes. Oh wait, King Bush doesn't care about our constitutional rights so why would he bother ? Just keep running from the steamroller ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    comicfan, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 5:50pm

    Re: Big difference

    Very simple. When someone copies a movie successfully, any tagged state is gone, protection is cracked, gone. Therefore illegal uploadeddownloaded movies would bypass this anyway. Not to mention, how can you have to "activate" a movie? What about our DVD home players? Sure they may be able to code it so when it's on a pc it must be activated but not likely.

    Software companies? Sure they do this but there is always a way around it as some you can use without activation as long as the key code was given through activation. Plus there are work-arounds with online activation and software that will not only crack it but fool it into activation. While i'm sure it helps, it's not 100%.

    Me, I find enough FREE software to do whatever I need with no need to download copied stuff. Working in some security over the years teaches you a lot and I will say, whatever they come up with, others are far ahead of the game. However my beef is with tactics used by corporations, not reasons.

    That said, it goes back to what everyone has been saying and the RIAA, MPAA refuses to realize, change is happening, find a way to deal with it instead of wasting time fighting it. Pure stupidity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Gerba76, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 6:14pm


    No the wy to stop these people is to quit using any product they represent but most people won't do that so they get to do what they want and you get to gripe about it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    comicfan, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 7:46pm


    Agreed. I have not, nor will I buy music...Going on 10 years now :) :) I won't download it either, nothing. Same is going for movies as well, I may be a minority but at least I feel like I'm sticking it to them in my own way.

    Like you said, many will though, there is no unity to stand against large corporations or government rules or "legal crimes" as I like to call it. Plus, we have a spoiled generation "not all" but many who simply want, want, want and don't care what's going on behind the scenes.

    What worries me is that this whole copyright thing will open up avenues,"excuses" for other companies or government to delve into what we do even more. If the RIAA, "an industry, not government" can get away with what they have, who is going to follow suit. When people need help, we are told, life isn't perfect,however this only applies to those who don't have billions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    comicfan, Jul 6th, 2007 @ 7:51pm

    Re: Re: Anonymous Coward

    Yes, exactly, if you agree, that's fine and you are correct. I often wonder, when you pop a DVD into your pc, watch your firewall, the software that comes with it to watch it is in my "opinion" very untrustworthy. I wouldn't doubt that giving access to it would be taken advantage to the MPAA's advantage somehow if you know what I mean. If you allow access to the playable software, perhaps they have some means to tag you. I haven't installed it, ever. Not that I care but one day I will test it and check my firewall logs just to see what's getting in or out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Jim, Jul 7th, 2007 @ 4:40pm


    Transformers was released in some places, Australia for instance, about a week ahead of it's US launch.

    So there very well could have been a legit torrent like the one you mentioned.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2007 @ 9:39pm

    Re: Re:

    The movie I was talking about was 'Ratatouille' and the listing was as a DVDRip. Downloaded it and it said I needed a special viewer to see and to click on the link to install. I also noticed my PeerGardian2 had all kinds of blocked TCP connections to MediaSentry and SafeNet. I didn't download the viewer and deleted the AVI file. And I did know that it was to soon for this to be out but I was curious as all hell. By the way, this came off of PirateBay which after a few hours had killed off the torrent. But I wonder how many people got nabbed on this. I wonder if this will turn into another Sony case.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29. identicon
    Bignumone, Jul 8th, 2007 @ 5:47am

    Illegal tactics

    Invasion of privacy, unwarrented search and seasure, extortion, "wire-tapping" (OK, but what does your signal come into your computer on). Although I think it is wrong to steal content, our own police don't have the right to do some of the things the RIAA does, even when a law has been broken.
    As a nation, we need to put some clamps on these companies and organizations. Two things we can do is stop buying their products (I don't see that happening) and making it clear it is an important issue during an election year.
    Politicians influence what laws are made, and they pay attention when they lose votes!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 10th, 2007 @ 9:42am

    as hopeless charm said, the only way to get this to stop is jail time via the RICO statues. I think the RIAA fits very nicely into the definition of an organized criminal enterprise. Give them the Paris Hilton Treatment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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