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Anti-Piracy Operations Are Fabricating Links To Non-Existent Torrents In DMCA Notices

from the this-seems-like-a-problem dept

We've seen lots of stories involving various "anti-piracy" organizations sending bogus takedown notices -- often because they use lame keyword matching without any review, and it targets totally unrelated things that happen to have the same name. However, the folks over at TorrentFreak have found another form of totally bogus takedown: completely fabricated torrent links for torrents that have never existed. The issue here is that the fabricated links were targeting two torrent caching systems, Zoink.it and Torrage.com. TorrentFreak explains how they work... but also why the targeted links did not ever exist:
These don’t have a searchable index of torrents, but serve as a hosting platform for torrent sites, identifying torrents by their unique hash.

For example, a torrent for an episode of Ballers that aired a few weeks ago has the hash C87000EF73557A488D5C21BF8F9FA4CC24EC0513. This file would then be available at Zoink under the following url:

zoink.it/torrent/C87000EF73557A488D5C21BF8F9FA4CC24EC0513.torrent.

We say would be, because Zoink.it was shut down at the end of 2014. The same is true for the other torrent cache, Torrage, which has been offline for quite a while as well.
Okay, so you can see how this happened. The anti-piracy groups understood just enough about how the torrent cache sites worked, that they automated sending takedowns based on torrent hashes on the assumption that those torrents would also show up via the cache sites. Okay, understandable. But here's the problem: they never checked to see if those links ever existed. Hell, it sounds like they never even visited Zoink.it again for at least the past two years.

And yet they sent takedowns for links there.

So how can these companies actually claim that they know these "files" are infringing, when they clearly never even checked the links, let alone the fact that the site they're accusing of infringement, hasn't even been up for two years?

The TorrentFreak article notes that this is not a one-off thing. They found other anti-piracy groups sending takedowns for more non-existent torrents on the same non-existing sites. We know that these fly-by-night operations don't bother to check the files to see if they're actually infringing material, but now we know they don't even seem to check to see if sites or links ever actually existed in the first place.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2016 @ 1:22pm

    The actual copyright holders now have grounds for laying fraud charges against these companies, but will they, will they hell, as their intent is to hound sites they do not like until they go away.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 22 Aug 2016 @ 1:25pm

    Simple math and incentives

    1) Accuracy with regards to DMCA claims takes time and money.

    2) Being able to crow about how many 'infringing links' you demanded taken down allows you to make your company/service look more productive than competing companies/services, meaning more people use your service, leading to more profits.

    3) There is no penalty whatsoever for making false DMCA claims.

    Given the above three it shouldn't come as any sort of surprise that companies of this sort can be wildly inaccurate and sloppy with their claims, since all the incentives are on the side of throwing out as many claims with as little effort expended as possible, with no incentives whatsoever on the side of making sure those claims are accurate before sending them out or reporting them to their clients.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2016 @ 9:24pm

      Re: Simple math and incentives

      Better: If they send takedowns to these offline sites, then they can start claiming "75% of takedowns resulted in no action by these sites." Technically true, eye-popping enough to get a headline and a soundbite, and not actually a lie. Win-Win-Win!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2016 @ 1:30pm

    If only somebody with legal standing and finances...

    ...actually gave enough of a damn to pursue this. [not me, mind you - but somebody]

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2016 @ 2:15pm

      Re: If only somebody with legal standing and finances...

      Yup. At that point, it should open those companies to 512 sanctions for copyright fraud.

      But that's unlikely to happen in the extreme.

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

  • icon
    wshuff (profile), 22 Aug 2016 @ 2:15pm

    Maybe it's the Minority Torrent Report.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2016 @ 2:15pm

    It's the same way with file sharing copyright trolls. They harvest IP addresses of people who try to connect to the swarm, making the assumption that everyone will both download and upload the entire file, and laying down accusations accordingly. So even people who fail to download (or upload) a single byte can still get themselves targeted by a copyright trolling operation.

    But since there is absolutely no penalty under the DMCA for copyright claimants making reckless accusations (though draconian penalties for ISPs for not taking such accusations seriously) why should we expect copyright trolls go to the time and expense of actually verifying the data their automated programs generate before sending it out?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2016 @ 2:18pm

    Just a link please.

    You should of just posted a link to the original article at TorrentFreak, Mike, cause they did hell of better job at explaining the issues than you did in your regurgitation.

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

    • icon
      WDS (profile), 22 Aug 2016 @ 2:49pm

      Re: Just a link please.

      Don't let the fact that he did post a link to the original article get in the way of making a silly complaint.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2016 @ 5:38pm

      Re: Just a link please.

      If you do not like it, then simply leave.
      It's not like you paid TD or something.

      Wow man ... yer free stuff is shit man

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2016 @ 6:46pm

      Re: Just a link please.

      "You should of just posted a link to the original article at TorrentFreak, Mike, cause they did hell of better job at explaining the issues than you did in your regurgitation."

      How can you write when you can't read?

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 22 Aug 2016 @ 11:46pm

      Re: Just a link please.

      "You should of just posted a link to the original article"

      You should have learned to read and right English correctly. Then you'd have perhaps understood that the link you're complaining about not being in the article is, in fact, in the article you're responding to.

      However, it is interestingly ironic to see that the ACs have now sunk to complaining about non-existent issues on an article about takedowns for non-existent torrents.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2016 @ 2:42pm

    They should just ask Mike Masnick how torrents work, as he knows all about it.

    Except he wouldn't tell them because he supports piracy and taking away copyright from artists- the only legal protection they have.

    Quite the sicko, eh?

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 22 Aug 2016 @ 2:54pm

      Re:

      I'm not entirely sure why you think anyone would take the opinion of a serial-arsonist such as yourself seriously, but hey, knock yourself out I guess.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 22 Aug 2016 @ 3:03pm

      Hit enter too soon

      (Hey now, throwing out baseless accusations and personal attacks rather than addressing someone's actual argument and/or statement is fun, I can see why you do it so much now.)

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2016 @ 3:12pm

      Re:

      Oh look clown shoes showed up to vomit letters all over the screen. How cute.

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

    • icon
      art guerrilla (profile), 22 Aug 2016 @ 3:36pm

      Re:

      "Quite the sicko, eh?"

      um, pot/kettle much ? ? ?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2016 @ 4:55pm

      Re:

      and who are you that we may evaluate your integrity and ethical standards?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2016 @ 5:04pm

      Re:

      and lets not kid ourselves. IP laws have almost never been about the artists. They have always been about the middlemen.

      If you want proof just look no further than the one sided penalty structure that works against artists that have their works falsely taken down.

      You are not in favor of laws that protect artists. Otherwise you would be in favor of ensuring that artists on the receiving end of false takedown requests receive at least the same protections as the crooks that issue false takedowns. But I don't see you complaining about how IP laws harm artists. You don't care for the artists at all.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2016 @ 5:17pm

      Re:

      BTW, I am in favor of giving artists legal protections. When an artist is on the receiving end of a false takedown request I am in favor of protecting that artist by

      1: Ensuring that all DMCA takedown requests are under penalty of perjury

      2: If a takedown request turns out to be false the issuer is fined 100K given to the artist

      3: The false issuer should also be forced to pay the service provider 50K for having to manage these takedowns. This will ensure that service providers don't go out of business due to having to manage IP laws so that artists can be protected from not having these service providers to host their content.

      4: I am in favor of having Megaupload reinstated so that artists can use the service to upload their content. All of the criminals responsible for taking down Megaupload should be criminally prosecuted and sentenced. This will protect artists from having to worry about the removal of content hosts that they find useful for no good reason.

      It is you that doesn't care for legal protections in favor of artists. You only care about the distributors and the legal protections written by them and for them.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2016 @ 5:40pm

      Re:

      You're a joke.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 22 Aug 2016 @ 6:29pm

      Re:

      So... DMCAing over torrents that don't exist is your definition enforcing copyright law.

      I like how the tardbucket who demands money for enforcing a law over something that doesn't exist is the one calling others a "sicko".

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

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 22 Aug 2016 @ 6:46pm

      Re:

      "Except he wouldn't tell them because he supports piracy and taking away copyright from artists"

      Citation needed.

      Would you please present links to where you found these facts, or just admit you are a shitty troll collecting pay to try and pollute the site.

      See the downside is, your IQ is actually below room temp, and any of the regulars and half of the AC's who post here could outthink you while on shrooms.

      Oh and because its not worth it being nice...

      Are you still raping your dog?
      How many kittens will you choke to death to regain your manhood after what your uncle did to you that one summer?
      Were you more hurt he did it to you, or he discarded you because you weren't any good?

      Please go find a fire and die in it... in real life.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Aug 2016 @ 2:38pm

        Re: Re:

        "your IQ is actually below room temp"

        What unit are you referring to?

        Celsius (~21), Fahrenheit (~70), or Kelvin?

        (OK, obviously you don't mean Kelvin since the shills around here probably don't even know what that means but that's why it's important for you to specify).

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

    • icon
      techflaws (profile), 22 Aug 2016 @ 10:02pm

      Re:

      The pathetic is strong in this one.

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 22 Aug 2016 @ 11:48pm

      Re:

      "They should just ask Mike Masnick how torrents work, as he knows all about it."

      Yes, people who write about things should know how they actually work. Is this a problem? Are you saying that people who write about crime are actually committing it, or are you just another poor deluded liar who can;t deal with facts so have to make crap up about people?

      "he supports piracy and taking away copyright from artists"

      Oh, you're full of shit. Carry on...

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2016 @ 6:43am

        Re: Re:

        It's still hard to fathom how these people can possibly think they are doing any good to their cause. It's obviously not working.

        1: Look at the mass protests against SOPA

        2: The mass protests against TPP

        3: The fact that Hillary had to temporarily change her position to oppose the TPP to sway voters because she knows that the overwhelming majority of voters are against the TPP and they're against our overreaching IP laws

        4: Where are the mass protests in favor of the TPP and in favor of expanding IP laws? They obviously don't exist because almost nobody wants these laws except the big corporate interests that are pushing for them.

        5: The TPP agreements were mostly done in secret with select corporate interests invited but the public was left out. Why? Because they know the public doesn't want these laws and these laws aren't intended to serve what the public wants.

        Some democracy.

        and some propaganda scheme from these shills that's obviously not working. They need a new strategy obviously besides coming here and telling the same lies over and over again. It's just not working but I guess they're desperate or something.

        They obviously don't care about the artists. For them to complain about 'artist protection' is a laughable joke and just reveals them for the liars they are.

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 23 Aug 2016 @ 6:51am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I don't understand the mindset from the regular trolls, etc., here. The lies are as repetitive as they are easily debunked. It's depressingly familiar to those of us watching Trump and Brexit that people who know what they're actually talking about are attacked as somehow bad, but this is par for the course.

          I understand the support for things like SOPA on the part of the top end of the corporate scale - they have either stayed ignorant of the actual market changes that have led to their falling profits, or are aware and just want to get the maximum personal profit they can right now, long-term consequences be damned. But, I'll never understand the people who defend them for free.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2016 @ 8:55pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Some of the shills that post have in fact been known to come from various pro-IP firms. Some of them may be IP lawyers. Often times they'll try and hide behind tor because they have been caught with IP addresses known to come from organizations with conflicts of interests. They'll lie about it though. But many of them do have a conflict of interest in the matter and often times these are propaganda schemes by interested parties.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 23 Aug 2016 @ 7:21am

        Re: Re:

        The funny thing is, the implications this troll makes are that if the law doesn't allow copyright enforcement to punish people for files that don't exist, artists are monetarily fucked.

        In other words he wants to sue people for money over accusations for crimes that were never committed. Just like the RIAA used to do, then dropped the ball after realizing that the public no longer took them seriously as a result, only for the baton to be picked up by Prenda (and inadvertently lead the judges to the infestation of rot and roaches under the rug).

        He's full of shit because he's realized that the only way he'll get away with being a retard is to go full retard.

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

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 22 Aug 2016 @ 5:22pm

    unless they are purposely abusing the system to force shutdowns of sites they don't like.

    Never attribute to incompetance what can be explained by malice

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

  • identicon
    John Mayor, 22 Aug 2016 @ 9:51pm

    FAB LINKS: ACT ONE, SCENE TWO

    Interesting!... I wonder what Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation would say about these Fabricated Links to Non-existant Torrents! That is to say, given Richard's, and the FSF's, AVERSION to the DMCA! A Stallman (and company!) sequel to this story, is going to read like an excellent comedy skit!
    .
    Please!... no emails!

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


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