Blunders By Convicted 'Fast And Furious 6' Cammer Made It Easy To Track Him Down

from the cocksure-offending dept

Back in May last year, Techdirt wrote about how the UK police worked in worryingly-close collaboration with the local anti-piracy group, FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft), effectively becoming its private enforcement squad. As we noted recently that case has now passed through the UK courts, with Philip Danks receiving 33 months in prison.

The severe sentence is noteworthy, but what's really interesting here is how Danks was tracked down. TorrentFreak has written a fascinating follow-up piece explaining just how easy he made it. Apparently, Danks's online alias in the torrenting scene was TheCod3r. That seems safe enough, revealing nothing about the person behind it. But as TorrentFreak notes, a quick online search for that term brings up a link to someone else using exactly the same nickname, this time on the dating site Plenty of Fish:
Clicking that link on dating site Plenty of Fish (POF) reveals a whole range of information about a person who, at the very least, uses the same online nickname as Danks. There's no conclusive proof that it's the same person, but several pieces of information begin to build a picture.

In his POF profile, Danks reveals his city as being Willenhall, a small town situated in an area known locally as the Black Country. What FACT would've known soon after the movie leaked online was which cinema it had been recorded in. That turned out to be a Showcase cinema, just a few minutes up the road from Willenhall in the town of Walsall.
Danks also seems to have been incredibly reckless on Facebook:
On May 10, 2013, Danks again took to Facebook, this time to advertise that he was selling copies of movies including Robocop and Captain America.

This continued distribution of copyrighted material particularly aggravated the Court at his sentencing hearing this week, with Danks’ behavior being described as "bold, arrogant and cocksure offending."
The TorrentFreak article concludes by making an important point:
While the list of events above clearly shows a catalog of errors that some might even find amusing, the desire of many pirates to utilize the same nickname across many sites is a common one employed by some of the biggest in the game.

Once these and other similar indicators migrate across into real-life identities and activities (and the ever-present Facebook account of course), joining the dots is not difficult -- especially for the police and outfits like FACT. And once that happens, no amount of VPN encryption of lack of logging is going to put the genie back in the bottle.
In other words, these high-profile wins for the copyright industry are not the result of the police making use of surveillance powers, or of clever sleuthing by organizations like FACT. Rather, they are the direct and largely predictable result of the arrogance and stupidity displayed by those breaking the law.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 3:00pm

    Fast and Furious... 6?

    You mean they're still making those?

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 3:06pm


    It appears that you have bought into the Hollywood hype machine that tell everyone else that they are creative.

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

  3. identicon
    AC, Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 3:08pm

    33 months is pretty harsh...

    ...but damn if he doesn't make it impossible to feel much sympathy for him.

    Downloading deserves a slap on the wrist. Camming and uploading might need some actual punishment. Advertising copies for sale (and on Facebook!)? That's the sort of thing copyright was originally (and rightly) meant to criminalize.

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

  4. icon
    connermac725 (profile), Sep 2nd, 2014 @ 3:33pm

    cocksure offending

    i am sure there will be plenty of that in prison lol

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

  5. identicon
    Michael, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 5:00am


    I thought franchises were dead.

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

  6. identicon
    Michael, Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 6:48am

    Re: 33 months is pretty harsh...

    At least they didn't make him watch the movie.

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

  7. icon
    LduN (profile), Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 10:52am

    Re: 33 months is pretty harsh...

    people attempt to sell all kinds of stupid things on Facebook. I have personally people asking to buy/selling beer, contraband (native) cigerettes, and lastly weed.

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

  8. icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), Sep 3rd, 2014 @ 12:07pm

    Re: Re: 33 months is pretty harsh...

    No, that would be cruel and unusual punishment.

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

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