US Copyright Group Willing To Reveal The Tech It Uses To Identify File Sharers... Sort Of

from the an-investigation-would-be-useful dept

US Copyright Group, which is really DC-based law firm Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver, has made a lot of news recently for unleashing thousands of lawsuits on people it accuses of infringing on copyrights, in an effort not to stop infringement, but to send out "pre-settlement letters" to get people to pay up to avoid the lawsuits. Dunlap keeps insisting, despite similar efforts accusing perfectly innocent people of infringement and demanding payment, that its technology is reliable and credible. CCS Labs, a company that does work in the computer crime field, was curious about this and asked US Copyright Group for the right to review its methodology and technology.

Dave Gordon from CCS Labs contacted us to let us know that US Copyright Group has agreed to let it review its technology and methodology if CCS Labs can show that it has been hired by someone who is being sued by it. So, CCS Labs is looking for anyone who was on the receiving end of a US Copyright Group lawsuit to contact them as soon as possible:
However, the CCS LABS, requires your help! If you have received a letter from the US Copyright Group please contact the CCS LABS and formally request them to represent you as your technology experts. They will need your case number of personal contact details which will not be made public. You will also have access to the full report produced by the CCS LABS, instead of a summary disclosure report.
Why might this be important? Beyond getting a look into what US Copyright Group is actually doing in determining who it accuses of infringement, CCS Labs could potentially determine that the technology is not reliable for courtroom use:
The technology supplied will be tested for "fitness" and can receive one of three classifications NOT CERTIFIED, eDiscovery Certified, or Forensics Certified. Only Forensics Certified software may be used to provide "expert evidence" in court. If the technology receives a NOT CERTIFIED classification then the technology is not fit for any intelligence gathering use.
I have no clue if the technology and methodology used by USCG is any good, but it would be nice to have some more details on it, and also getting it tested to determine whether or not it really can be used in court. Among the questions that CCS Labs intends to look at:
1) Is the file downloaded the file that is expected?
2) Are the IPs listed providing the chunks expected or false chunks?
3) Is every action logged?
4) Is a full report produced?
5) Are problems displayed and analysed by humans later?
6) What is the user documentation like?
7) Are the users of the technology fully trained on the technology?
8) Do we have access to the developers?
9) Is the technology's confidence level known?
10) Are the results produced by the Technology repeatable?
11) Has the technology been assessed by an external auditing authority already?
12) How automated is the system?
13) What level of redundancy checking is used?
14) If hashing used, which algorithm(s) is/are used?
and many more...
I'm guessing that US Copyright Group really isn't that keen on having all these questions answered.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2010 @ 3:04pm

    they are back to dancing on the head of a pin, trying to find a way to avoid paying for their bad acts.

    doesnt the technology only have to show enough probably cause to allow for a seizure of computer?

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

    • icon
      DocMenach (profile), 22 Jun 2010 @ 3:13pm

      Re:

      doesn't the technology only have to show enough probably cause to allow for a seizure of computer?

      You should try reading the article before asking questions that have already been answered. As clearly stated in the article, a technology that fits under the "Not Certified" classification is not usable even for discovery purposes, and therefore could not be used to justify probable cause.

      Also, the fact that hundreds of computers can simultaneously connect to the internet through the same IP address means that knowing what IP address was used does not mean that you know what computer was used.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2010 @ 3:51pm

        Re: Re:

        ". As clearly stated in the article, a technology that fits under the "Not Certified" classification is not usable even for discovery purposes, and therefore could not be used to justify probable cause. " - i dont see it as that clear, sorry. even the 14 questions listed should be enough to tell you that it isnt ip address alone.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2010 @ 3:56pm

          Yes, we're all sorry you cannot read, TAM.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2010 @ 4:52pm

            Re:

            i am not tam, i am sorry you cant read enough to actually understand. mike will be disappoint in you little man, only one post?

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2010 @ 4:58pm

              Re: Re:

              Hmm?

              So you're implicitly admitting that Mike's business sense is good enough to afford sock puppets to troll trolls?

              How curious. I thought he had no idea what he was doing, and that his business ideas were pure bunk.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2010 @ 6:28pm

                Re: Re: Re:

                i think there is potential that various staff members have taken the job on pro bono, and mike himself is sometimes in the mix. i am thinking there is an office pool or something.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2010 @ 6:47pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  Wow, they have an office?!

                  According to everything you say about them, they should be living in cardboard boxes on the street and hacking open WiFi for access to the internet.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2010 @ 6:59pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  How much does the tinfoil industry pay you, TAM?

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2010 @ 5:24pm

              Re: Re:

              Okay, fine then, you're a moron, happy now?

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2010 @ 5:30pm

              Re: Re:

              You are TAM, but please continue with your paranoid conspiracy. It is amusing.

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

    • icon
      Esahc (profile), 22 Jun 2010 @ 3:29pm

      Re:

      Who is this "they" you speak of? From what I've read this company only wants to audit the technology involved gathering evidence.

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

    • icon
      DocMenach (profile), 22 Jun 2010 @ 3:54pm

      Re:

      they are back to dancing on the head of a pin, trying to find a way to avoid paying for their bad acts.

      Sounds to me like US Copyright Group is dancing on the head of a pin, trying to find a way to abuse the legal system so they can file against 5,000 people while only paying for one filing fee. They also seem to be dancing around the need for actual proof.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2010 @ 5:47pm

      Re:

      Don't you care if uncertified and unreliable procedures are used to accuse and convict people?

      What if they just use a magic 8-ball to guess who's infringing?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2010 @ 11:59pm

      Re:

      Your an idiot , keep your comments to yourself

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2010 @ 3:06pm

    Of course they haven't sued anyone...

    ...they've only sent 'pre-settlement' letters.

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

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 22 Jun 2010 @ 4:48pm

      Re: Of course they haven't sued anyone...

      ...they've only sent 'pre-settlement' letters.

      That's not true. They have filed lawsuits.

      It is true that ACS:Law in the UK just sends pre-settlement letters, threatening to file a lawsuit. But USCG has, in fact, filed numerous lawsuits.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2010 @ 7:39pm

        Re: Re: Of course they haven't sued anyone...

        and i received one..

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

      • icon
        Richard (profile), 23 Jun 2010 @ 4:19am

        Re: Re: Of course they haven't sued anyone...

        It is true that ACS:Law in the UK just sends pre-settlement letters, threatening to file a lawsuit. But USCG has, in fact, filed numerous lawsuits.

        Does this relate to differences between UK and US law and procedures or is it a real difference in tactics?

        If you work on the assumption that this is basically a shakedown then you wouldn't expect USCG to go to any expense that they could avoid so you wouldn't expect actual lawsuits unless US law made them necessary.

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

        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 23 Jun 2010 @ 4:56am

          Re: Re: Re: Of course they haven't sued anyone...

          Does this relate to differences between UK and US law and procedures or is it a real difference in tactics?

          I'm pretty sure it's due to the RIAA/Verizon lawsuit about a decade ago, where Verizon fought -- and won -- in the courts to say that the RIAA could only demand names and info if it had filed a lawsuit.

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

          • icon
            Richard (profile), 23 Jun 2010 @ 2:32pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Of course they haven't sued anyone...

            Ah, I see - so it doesn't mean they are likely to go to the expense of actually pursuing the lawsuits...

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

  • icon
    Keith (profile), 22 Jun 2010 @ 3:57pm

    Legal grunt

    All the legal battles will do is make more people determined to screw the big companies. People will just dig in deeper.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2010 @ 4:56pm

    I just simply stopped buying big media altogether. I'm not acquiring it without paying either, I just have little to no taste for the trash being produced, and for the greed and disfunction of the big media companies behind it.

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

    • icon
      Hephaestus (profile), 22 Jun 2010 @ 7:59pm

      Re: If you want freee legit music .....

      xxx note/entry) got tired of looking up the last number

      By the way techdirt did a recent article titled ...

      Michael Robertson's Crowdsourced List Of 1,400 Examples Of EMI Giving Away Free Music; EMI Denies All But 3".

      In the article there is a list of 1400 songs that were given away for promotional puposes with a spread sheet of where to download them.

      I downloaded the list and added it to my current list of legal promotional music to download. My list is 158,000 plus distinct URLs at this point none of which I have downloaded. The "download all" button is kind of tempting though. Between the 1400 songs listed and my list there was alot of cross over. If released as an app and source code with an XML database of URL's. The app is only 2,800 lines of VB code. Most of the code is to create pattern match files to prevent downloading the same song multiple times. It is the precursor to a screen saver to play music amd determine what is playing on what web radio station.

      Release of the promotional URL list download program (Code name MUSE-ick) would cause one of three outcomes.

      One the record labels issue DMCA take downs against every song on the list and piss off every person promoting their music. Causing a huge backlash against the labels, loss of artists, and public awareness.

      Two they do nothing. At which point everything they have dumped for promotion is fair game for download.

      Three they stop all free promotions of music. This would actually be an extension of two. And problematic in how do you create hype when no one knows what is coming.

      Whats funny is this is one of those, damned if they do, damned if they don't, moments for the record labels. The thought is out there for anyone to implement.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 22 Jun 2010 @ 10:31pm

        Re: Re: If you want freee legit music .....

        good luck basing your entire legal defense on a crowdsourced list. if you mention that one to a lawyer they would pretty much laugh you out of the room.

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

        • icon
          Hephaestus (profile), 23 Jun 2010 @ 4:45am

          Re: Re: Re: If you want freee legit music .....

          In my case you really dont get what I am upto. So go back to your house under the bridge, I hear your mommy calling you.

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

      • icon
        Dave (profile), 23 Jun 2010 @ 12:28am

        Re: Re: If you want freee legit music .....

        If you pass the list onto dave@ccs-labs.com - we'll get a few guys to manually go through the list and check each location for the legitimacy of the downloads - We will post the list of legit links on our site as well as download them all, hash them and add them to our white-list database.

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

        • icon
          Hephaestus (profile), 23 Jun 2010 @ 4:54am

          Re: Re: Re: If you want freee legit music .....

          I am not sure about releasing the list I have come up with at this point. If you want to do just EMI I would be fine with it. I have been releasing the apps and tools into the wilds of the internet to limited effect for a couple months. I think the best way to go is to have a massive coming out party with everything I have come up with to counter ACTA and the IP industries in one place, and open the discussion on how to proceed. I will e-mail you in a couple hours.

          excuse me for being a bit cryptic.

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

      • icon
        Marcel de Jong (profile), 23 Jun 2010 @ 7:10am

        Re: Re: If you want freee legit music .....

        You could call the app "μ-sick" (mu-sick)

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

  • icon
    Jeremy7600 (profile), 22 Jun 2010 @ 5:19pm

    Wouldn't this expose the person who hired them to the lawsuit?

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

    • identicon
      Dave Gordon, 23 Jun 2010 @ 12:23am

      Re: Exposing those behind the USCG

      We think so, we think that the USCG do not have the technical knowledge, which is why we want access to the developers, which will we believe in fact reveal the company behind the cases.

      We think we know who it is already, but have to wait and see. But as yet no one has come forward who will provide their case number and contact details.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2010 @ 2:11am

        Re: Re: Exposing those behind the USCG

        Dave, I think you are an absolute fraud, and are doing all this just to get business for your company. I guess you don't have alot of business? You are just trying to profit off these cases like everyone else. Why would anyone in the U.S. hire a company based in the UK to be their expert? It would cost so much more than hiring a US expert. Anyone who would actually pay your company anything in connection with these cases is an idiot. You have way too much time on your hands, Dave, which I can only assume is because your business is not very successful. That must be why you are going out of your way to try to interject yourself into this litigation-to profit from it. Besides, I read the article you posted on your lousy website, and all these people have said is that they will "consider" your request, not that they would provide the information. You jumped the gun on this one you moron.

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

        • icon
          Mike Masnick (profile), 23 Jun 2010 @ 5:02am

          Re: Re: Re: Exposing those behind the USCG

          Dave, I think you are an absolute fraud, and are doing all this just to get business for your company. I guess you don't have alot of business? You are just trying to profit off these cases like everyone else. Why would anyone in the U.S. hire a company based in the UK to be their expert? It would cost so much more than hiring a US expert. Anyone who would actually pay your company anything in connection with these cases is an idiot. You have way too much time on your hands, Dave, which I can only assume is because your business is not very successful. That must be why you are going out of your way to try to interject yourself into this litigation-to profit from it. Besides, I read the article you posted on your lousy website, and all these people have said is that they will "consider" your request, not that they would provide the information. You jumped the gun on this one you moron.

          Dear person posting this: please be aware that when you post from your work account, we are aware of the corresponding IP address, which exposes who you work for.

          Would you care to share that with the folks you are insulting? For example, would you, perhaps, like to share whether or not you are an unbiased party here?

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2010 @ 5:20am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Exposing those behind the USCG

            "Dear person posting this: please be aware that when you post from your work account, we are aware of the corresponding IP address, which exposes who you work for." - strike a blow for privacy, live on techdirt. you didnt just do that mike.

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

            • icon
              Marcel de Jong (profile), 23 Jun 2010 @ 6:02am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Exposing those behind the USCG

              Erm, almost every site you visit logs your ip-address. And every webmaster has the chance to see where you come from.
              I think Mike is just saying: "be aware, you are not as anonymous as you think."

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

            • icon
              Hephaestus (profile), 23 Jun 2010 @ 7:13am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Exposing those behind the USCG

              "strike a blow for privacy, live on techdirt. you didnt just do that mike."

              He did and I appreciate it. He didnt mention Anonymous Cowards name or the company he works for he never does. He did however tell us what I suspected the instant I read the post this guy strikes out, panics, and fears what Dave (not me the other David) can do to this case. The post by it self is very telling ...

              "You are just trying to profit off these cases like everyone else."

              Seems to say, you are going after my cash cow stop it, or you are going to ruin this plan, or you have done this to me before. Iake your pick.

              "Besides, I read the article you posted on your lousy website, and all these people have said is that they will "consider" your request, "

              This is the hope line, it says I am hoping that people dont use you.

              "You jumped the gun on this one you moron."

              This is the anger line and says, In conclusion I am pissed you are doing this me.

              The whole post is really telling. It is full of anger, fear, despair, uncertainty, and reminds me of the Record label type that wants the death penalty for infringement. It has the same level of unadulterated, everything is slipping away from me, RAGE.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2010 @ 8:22am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Exposing those behind the USCG

                yes, but without mikes comments about ip addresses and "the company you work for", it would be just splutter from someone on the level of a darryl. instead, this guy is revealed to be specifically from one of the companies or organizations on one side to the issue.

                privacy denied.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2010 @ 12:05pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Exposing those behind the USCG

                  And as we all know having privacy is more important than stopping piracy.

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

  • identicon
    gimpydwarf, 22 Jun 2010 @ 5:44pm

    Just another group of "bottom of the class" lawyers trying to pay their student loads off. they are not even hired by the copyright owners, they find the IPs downloading crap, then approach the copyright owners with a piece of the money pie if they agree to let them threaten the down-loader with a lawsuit. Pure scumbag legal maneuvering.

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

  • identicon
    Busted, 23 Jun 2010 @ 4:27am

    Dave Gordon

    Dave-are you really offering to act as an expert to defendants in the States for absolutely free, or are you charging for it?

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

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 23 Jun 2010 @ 5:02am

      Re: Dave Gordon

      Dave-are you really offering to act as an expert to defendants in the States for absolutely free, or are you charging for it?

      Dear person posting this: please be aware that when you post from your work account, we are aware of the corresponding IP address, which exposes who you work for.

      Would you care to share that with the folks you are insulting? For example, would you, perhaps, like to share whether or not you are an unbiased party here?

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

  • identicon
    abused No More, 23 Jun 2010 @ 6:29am

    logging IP addresses

    I had a website that was a anti-establishment forum for a very specific group. I offered unfiltered, uncensored forum for discussion of the issues facing this group. One day I posted a poll, unscientific and uncontrolled, and found one person spamming votes. I looked at my server logs and found the IP address and compared it to the hate mail email headers I had received from the opposition (the control freaks in charge of the group) and called the b*tch out. That put an end to the spamming. To answer your next question, NO, it did not dampen the conversation amongst the rest of us. : )

    Mike hasn't revealed any info here, he's just warned the hater that he/she isn't quite as anonymous as he/she thinks. That Mike COULD reveal the info should be a deterrent, unless AC is as ignorant as his rants make him appear to be.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2010 @ 7:06am

      Re: logging IP addresses

      it is tasteless. it shows mike as a bully, willing to use information that is generally not made available to all posters to "out" someone. if he doesnt like what you stand for or whatnot in the future, would you want your personal information outed here?

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

      • icon
        btrussell (profile), 23 Jun 2010 @ 7:11am

        Re: Re: logging IP addresses

        Isn't that what US Copyright Group is doing?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2010 @ 9:08am

          Re: Re: Re: logging IP addresses

          "Isn't that what US Copyright Group is doing?" - umm, no. not even close.

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

          • icon
            btrussell (profile), 23 Jun 2010 @ 9:42am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: logging IP addresses

            That's right! Mike isn't demanding money or he will out you.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 23 Jun 2010 @ 10:24am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: logging IP addresses

              no, but it amounts to a form of extortion or intimidation: shut up or i will out you.

              remember that the next time you post here. if mike doesnt like your comments, he might out you.

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

              • icon
                ltlw0lf (profile), 23 Jun 2010 @ 11:58am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: logging IP addresses

                remember that the next time you post here.

                Remember this the next time you try to post anonymously to any website: Free speech does not by default imply anonymous speech. It is your responsibility as a speaker to assure that you are anonymous. Anyone between you and Techdirt can expose you, not just Mike. If you don't want to be outed, my suggestion is that you should look into technology such as anonymous proxies and TOR. Realize however, that even these systems can be compromised.

                Mike told us nothing we already knew. You are a shill, and likely a paid one. You believe that by posting anonymously, that you are trying to pull a fast one on us and make us think that you are an average joe, but your very style of writing gives away that you have a vested interest and nothing worthwhile to say other than to throw gasoline on the flames to polarize the discussion. Luckily, because people like you in the past, most of us are cynical and either ignore you or bait you.

                Most of us don't care about privacy in the way that you do. Your campaign of terror is limited by public exposure, and the more people see through your terror, the deeper you are going to have to hide. The rest of us care about our personal privacy, but a compromise isn't going to be as earth-shattering to our business models as it is to your zombie business model (it just will not die and go away.)

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

              • icon
                btrussell (profile), 23 Jun 2010 @ 2:18pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: logging IP addresses

                I'm using my real name.

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

              • icon
                techflaws.org (profile), 24 Jun 2010 @ 2:54am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: logging IP addresses

                if mike doesnt like your comments, he might out you.

                Apart from Mike doing it only to total ass-clowns like you appear to be, what about it? Are you afraid your mommy's gonna find out your using the internet again?

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

      • icon
        Marcel de Jong (profile), 23 Jun 2010 @ 7:17am

        Re: Re: logging IP addresses

        He's giving you the opportunity to come clean and tell everyone that you are not an unbiased person insulting Dave. That you actually have a vested interest in this matter.
        That is, if you indeed have a vested interest.

        Your insults towards Dave have been nothing but ludicrous, and very telling indeed, without Mike's warning even. So you can stop acting like a damsel in distress, it'll give you no soap. It doesn't suit you.

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


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