Antipiracy Outfits Routinely Claim Copyright Infringement Against Sites That Simply Report When Torrents Are Released

from the just-the-facts,-man dept

Whenever we hear new or renewed calls for more ways for antipiracy outfits and copyright holders to extrajudicially get content and/or sites taken down, there always seems to be one curious omission in the discussion: that antipiracy outfits generally suck at identifying actual infringing content. This is a strange omission, considering that creating ways for content to be taken down without a court's oversight rests the entire reputation for this practice on reports of infringement being accurate. Those of us who have taken to screaming how ripe all of this is for abuse do so because of the collateral damage it causes. Claims to the contrary have to rely on reports generally being accurate.

They aren't. In fact, they aren't even close. It's not going too far to say that antipiracy groups of all entities should be well-suited in identifying piracy. And, yet, they quite often target innocent sites that simply post factual information that does not include pirated files, including sites that do factual reporting on torrent availability. One such site is SweTracker, which focuses on detailing Nordic torrent releases, when they become available, and to whom they are attributed.

While many PreDb-style sites monitor for ‘Scene’ releases using information culled from IRC, SweTracker monitors BitTorrent trackers and publishes information on who won the ‘race’ to put content online first. It does not link to any pirate content whatsoever but anti-piracy companies regularly report the site to Google.

And, yet, SweTracker has been reported to Google hundreds of times in the past year alone as hosting illegal content. These reports have largely flooded in from antipiracy outfits, despite the simple fact that SweTracker hosts no infringing files and instead only reports on factual information. The site's operator mostly shrugs his shoulders at all of this, but also points the general impression he has that antipiracy outfits don't have a clue as to what they're doing.

“My personal experience with [anti-piracy companies] is that they don’t really know how stuff works. They often state that users can download or stream movies directly from SweTracker, but that’s simply not true,” he explains. “But, I try to make life easy and do remove the releases they ask me to remove. They have contacted me via email several times.”

It almost goes without saying that SweTracker isn't some outlier in all of this. It's also worth noting that this sort of harassment doesn't typically end with a sternly worded email. Instead, Google often errs on the side of delisting the links in its search results, and antipiracy outfits often times go to site host providers and try to get the sites taken down entirely.

PreDb.org states clearly on its main page that “There are absolutely NO downloads of copyright-protected works, hyperlinks to downloads, torrent files, magnet links, nzb files or similar content on any part of this web site” but that doesn’t prevent complaints.

Google’s Transparency Report indicates that at the time of writing, PreDb.org has had 2,204 URLs reported by content and anti-piracy companies, with Google removing the links from its indexes approximately 65% of the time.

To be clear, antipiracy outfits are censoring simple factual data in the name of copyright. Whether or not you find the factual data in question interesting or useful is entirely besides the point and doesn't make a lick of difference in the validity of the takedowns. Here we are, fresh into 2019, with rightsholders and antipiracy groups waging a clusterbomb war against piracy as their precision in doing so goes largely unquestioned, all while very real collateral damage is endured by innocent sites.

Keep that in mind whenever copyright maximalists ask for just a bit more power to censor the internet.

Filed Under: antipiracy, piracy, reporting, takedowns
Companies: swetracker


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  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 2 Jan 2019 @ 1:53pm

    People who like to invoke 1984, take note of this. Who is it here who is attempting to do away with "crimethink" by making it impossible to even have any knowledge of forbidden ideas in the first place, in order to make it impossible to reason about them?

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Frank Fiiish (the three-i-d fish), 2 Jan 2019 @ 5:13pm

      Re: Obvious answer is GOOGLE and Silicon Valley:

      Who is it here who is attempting to do away with "crimethink" by making it impossible to even have any knowledge of forbidden ideas in the first place, in order to make it impossible to reason about them?

      Not sure what connection you make to topic, but it's fine hook, so thanks.

      Far and away, Big Search and Big Social Media are the most invasive and controlling systems yet devised.

      Right now those are attacking the only real opposition: conservatives and Populism, but already are branching out to sweep up the few true leftists / humanists who see the obvious villains in the "1984" scenario.

      Corporations are amoral, you know that. When serves purpose, they'll throw the most faithful follower into Google's Soylent Rainbow machine.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2019 @ 5:19pm

        Re: Re:

        Weren't you gleefully crowing about how Google was going to out all the pirates? So you're not going to rely on them? Good to know.

        All the pirates worth their salt already practice better opsec than the NSA, so this won't affect anyone but the grandparents and military veterans you sue for your meal ticket.

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

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 2 Jan 2019 @ 6:24pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          All the pirates worth their salt already practice better opsec than the NSA

          'Better opsec than the NSA' isn't exactly setting the bar very high, so that's not really saying much.

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

          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 3 Jan 2019 @ 6:22am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            <i>"'Better opsec than the NSA' isn't exactly setting the bar very high, so that's not really saying much."</i>

            Harsh. Whatever makes you think so badly of the NSA?

            That the core engine of the "Wannacry" trojan turned out to be something russian hackers had lifted from the NSA's toolbox database and released in the wild for shits'n'giggles?

            That they leak like a sieve because they keep employing civilian contractors whose primary motivation is high ideals and thus likely to pull a Snowden?

            That whenever they DO try to keep things responsible and sane they end up in the hands of whatever antropomorphic PEBKAC is assigned to run them by a GWB or Trump?

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2019 @ 8:06am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "That they leak like a sieve because they keep employing civilian contractors whose primary motivation is high ideals"

              Hmmmm, interesting.

              So - military training drives out all those nasty "high ideals" ... and this is a desirable trait? It's no wonder that service members return home to many issues including mental issues.

              In addition, why assume that military personal will not "leak"? As if it had not happened multiple times in recent history - and as if all those leaks were bad.

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

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 4 Jan 2019 @ 1:26am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Militaries are sticklers for deferring to your superiors without question. High ideals get in the way of obedience and subservience.

                To their credit, the military actually trains its people, which is more than can be said for the trigger-happy police. On the other hand, military classifications tend to get challenged less anyway.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2019 @ 5:37pm

        Re: Re: Obvious answer is GOOGLE and Silicon Valley:

        lol

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2019 @ 5:48pm

        Re: Re: Obvious answer is GOOGLE and Silicon Valley:

        "Far and away, Big Search and Big Social Media are the most invasive and controlling systems yet devised."

        Why have you have overlooked religion?

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

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 2 Jan 2019 @ 5:53pm

      Re:

      DOUBLEPLUS GOOD!

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 2 Jan 2019 @ 11:13pm

      Re:

      To some, 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale are cautionary tales. To others, instruction manuals.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2019 @ 4:24pm

    TorrentFreak

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

  • icon
    UniKyrn (profile), 2 Jan 2019 @ 5:03pm

    Three Strikes and you're blacklisted needs to work BOTH ways.

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

    • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
      identicon
      Frank Fiiish (the three-i-d fish), 2 Jan 2019 @ 5:15pm

      Re: No, theft and advocating theft are totally one-way:

      Three Strikes and you're blacklisted needs to work BOTH ways.

      Skip these sites as minor: I've no doubt that YOU are for (and likely participate in) the underlying piracy that they report.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 2 Jan 2019 @ 5:03pm

    When the penalties only go one way...

    With absolutely zero effective penalty for filing bogus/fraudulent copyright claims, and companies scared stupid by the dastardly Infringers such that they'll throw piles of money to any company who claims to be able to handle copyright claims in their stead(and the more the better), it's not surprising that accuracy would be thrown out.

    If there's no penalty for getting it wrong, and getting it right takes time and effort(and thereby cuts into profits), there's no reason to strive for accuracy. In addition, if you make your money by exploiting gullible fools who think that if they just stomp hard enough they can rid the world of copyright infringement, magically making them all the money, it's to your benefit to increase the category of 'infringing' items you can go after, as it provides even larger numbers you can show off to potential marks/customers.

    Add in penalties for bogus copyright claims(the same penalties for infringement would work nicely, split between the ones sending the notices and the one paying them to do so), and companies will start to care about accuracy. Until then they have no reason to strive to only go after actual infringement, and every reason to shoot first and ask never.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Frank Fiiish (the three-i-d fish), 2 Jan 2019 @ 5:08pm

    Look pirate-friendly. Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.

    2019 continues Techdirt's tradition of attacking copyright and copyright holders any way can with the first pro-pirate, pro-infringement story re-written.

    This was chosen off Torrent Freak precisely it's the one recent that has those aspects of the struggle to protect works from pirates which Techdirt can use for its resolute 20-year mission to justify stealing of the works.

    It's also another (admittedly parallel-ish) attempt to equate "free speech" with "free copyrighted content".

    But fact is that those sites all on the surface look to be supporting and promoting piracy.

    So they're properly listed among pirates exactly the way that anyone reasonable regards Techdirt as pro-pirate. If one isn't "informed" that Techdirt "supports copyright", then you'd never come to that conclusion by reading here.

    BTW: so far as known, I'M the only person ever converted here! Yes, I came with the woozy piratey views: it's okay to steal from The Rich, they aren't losing anything, sharing and so on -- and other lies that are frequent here, assuaging guilt and projecting blame onto those who MAKE the content -- anyway, after reading the brazen piracy led by Pirate Mike, I was convinced that it's morally wrong, and the laws in place are fully justified, by simply looking at creators versus couch potatoes: the latter won't pay a pittance to creators. -- So now I enjoy commenting here as hobby. It has helped that the fanboys and re-writers are uniformly nasty and unable to defend their views with anything besides ad hominem, gainsaying, "hiding" comments, and even IP address bans so that when I use TOR, they attack me for that too! -- It's great fun if taken right, just don't be bamboozled that Techdirt AT ALL supports copyright.

    The most cogent and concise question is still: IF Techdirt supports copyright, then WHY ARE THE PIRATES HERE?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2019 @ 5:22pm

      Re:

      Thanks for outing yourself as a fluffer for rich corporations.

      Mitch Bainwol could burn your house down and slit your mother's throat and you'll still scream at Masnick because... Hell if I know why.

      And if only 27 half-dozen Bangladeshi pirates are here, then what are you doing here?

      DMCA voted.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2019 @ 5:24pm

      Re: Look pirate-friendly. Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.

      The copyright industry believes in guilt by association, and you are claiming that you hang out with pirates, therefore you are a pirate according to the industry you support.

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

    • icon
      Atkray (profile), 2 Jan 2019 @ 5:30pm

      Re: Look pirate-friendly. Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.

      Ahhh I see it now.........

      It isn't a reading comprehension problem you have. We all owe you an apology. Apparently you flat out can not read.

      You state "If one isn't "informed" that Techdirt "supports copyright", then you'd never come to that conclusion by reading here." Which is clearly false as anyone who even bothered to read this article much less the many other posts would know.

      As for your question, once you discover why YOU are here, you will know the answer.

      If you speak the truth, and in this I am inclined to actually believe you for a change, then the "pirates" and the vast majority of the other visitors are here because "it's great fun".

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2019 @ 5:39pm

      Re: Look pirate-friendly. Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.

      Every time I think your lies have reached the bottom, you keep digging. Bravo.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2019 @ 5:40pm

      Aren't you usually the one talking about how corporations shouldn't be censoring speech on the Internet? Yet here, you seem to be supporting corporations censoring the distribution of mere factual information. Care to explain this contradiction, or are you just being this dumb by accident?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2019 @ 6:29pm

      Re: Darkened doorsteps

      The real question is why are you still here bro?

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

    • identicon
      Rocky, 2 Jan 2019 @ 9:38pm

      Re: Look pirate-friendly. Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas.

      > So now I enjoy commenting here as hobby. It has helped that the fanboys and re-writers are uniformly nasty and unable to defend their views with anything besides ad hominem, gainsaying, "hiding" comments, and even IP address bans so that when I use TOR, they attack me for that too!
      You spout a lot of "facts", you NEVER back them up. You consistently misrepresent what is actually written in the articles. You call EVERYONE else for pirates.

      You are like the village idiot pissing into the wind wondering why he gets wet and blames everyone else for it.

      Behave like an idiot, be treated like an idiot - it's that simple.

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

    • icon
      Gwiz (profile), 3 Jan 2019 @ 12:00pm

      Re:

      It has helped that the fanboys and re-writers are uniformly nasty and unable to defend their views with anything besides ad hominem.....

      I have coherently rebutted you many times, usually on the same subjects, only to have you regurgitate the same incorrect crap the very next day. It is actually YOU who dosen't defend their views very well, you just simply ignore any opposing views or claim that they are just ad homs, very much like a 4-year old child clamping his hands over his ears screaming "I can't hear you".

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 2 Jan 2019 @ 6:09pm

    The government needs to get its shit together.
    They are forcing everyone else to bear the costs of their ineptness, pretending that it is perfectly normal.
    We do not allow big box retailers to demand a local tax to offset shoplifting, we expect them to deal with it in their business model & bear the costs of protecting their product.
    (In before one of the regular asshats claims I admitted piracy is theft. GFY.)
    Several alarm systems have proven to be faulty & some cities instituted a fine, not on everyone, but on the source of the problem to cover the costs of false alarms. The people with shitty alarm systems were shifting the costs of their shitty alarm system calling 911 every 3 hours to people not doing it... seems fair that the person screwing it up should pay.

    These "outfits" that send notices have proven time and time and time again they are incompetent, seriously HBO paid you & you demanded Google delist the entire domain for piracy. Rather than deal with the flurry of lawsuits the corporations would file for being delisted (at their own request) Google pays people/coders/lizard aliens to verify a legal document. I've seen some doozys filed in courts where the submitter has been benchslapped... yet somehow penalty of perjury means nothing really. (Copyright wonks will tell you that moar law & moar enforcement will make people respect copyright... despite decades of that not working... perhaps making the system completely unfair & unbalances makes people lose respect.)

    Someone needs to sue & ask a judge why defective legal documents, with the alleged penalty of perjury, are allowed to inflict costs on the recipients to fix the defects because not jumping high enough or fast enough means they can be on the hook for large damages... and without anything motivating them to get better they will keep sending more and more defective notices. (Of course this does not even touch on the idea that Google is not a proper target as the law says send it to the host & Google isn't hosting the alleged infringing content.)

    Everything is infringment, everything can be used for infringment, perhaps we need to stop listening to the little corporations who cry infringement & loss of money while depositing record profits.

    The law only works when all are treated fairly, it is time to balance this glaring omission of penalties for senders while threatening to inflict large penalties on recipients & that portion of the law is the only part with teeth.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 2 Jan 2019 @ 8:15pm

      Re:

      Maybe we need to start suing them for violating our rights with their false claims.

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

    • icon
      Seegras (profile), 3 Jan 2019 @ 4:40am

      Re:

      Loose respect for copyright? Well, Thomas Babington Macaulay told you so in his Speeches to House of Commons in 1841(!)

      http://homepages.law.asu.edu/~dkarjala/OpposingCopyrightExtension/commentary/MacaulaySpeeche s.html

      Read it, it features such juicy bits as "And you will find that, in attempting to impose unreasonable restraints on the reprinting of the words of the dead, you have, to a great extent, annulled those restraints which now prevent men from pillaging and defrauding the living."

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

      • icon
        That Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Jan 2019 @ 3:00am

        Re: Re:

        And yet the very common refrain from the copyright cartels is we just don't respect copyright enough so we need moar law to teach us to respect us... pity they don't understand they need to give respect to get respect.

        To "protect" their rights...

        Rootkits on computers
        Claiming ownership of a bird song
        Hampering technology because it MIGHT be used in a way they disapprove of
        Extending the time they have to squeeze every cent out, while ignoring market demand for content they don't want to bother with releasing but chase people who obtain it in other ways with ferocity
        Screwing up rights to a point where they have to release a series with all the music replaced, despite the music being important to the series
        A video of a baby dancing was in court for so long I think the kids in college now
        The utter silence about copyright trolls abusing the legal framework they created & refuse to let anyone try to fix
        The utter silence about shitty movies magically generating millions as they "somehow" got online and they deserve thousands for a movie that coudl have been rented for $1
        Ultraviolet
        Fighting every new platform tooth and nail to make the service worse for customers just in case they might miss a cent if 2 people listen at the same time on 1 account
        We secretly redited things & digitally added things to make a few more cents but won't tell you until the package is open & you can't return it
        15 unskippable ads before you can press play... and then there are 14 more submenus to deal with

        They go out of their way to shit on people who try to play by the rules & are given the worst possible experiences while wasting money chasing people who got fed up with being shit on and don't think there is a reason that the 'Little House on the Prairie' should cost $250 other than greed.

        They have locked away huge swaths of our culture & demand payment if you even think about it & can't be bothered to look to see what they own but if they do have the rights & you even tried to get permission they will threaten to sue you.

        We bear all of these burdens, our culture is stagnating, all so a fscking mouse can remain protected & the cartels don't have to remember the business is to sell product to customers not demand TV's tell them how many people are in the living room watching and stop playback if the number of people is to high for their likes.

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

  • identicon
    Glenn, 3 Jan 2019 @ 4:54am

    Copyright holders in general are the real pirates--stealing from content creators and the public (actual stealing instead of just infringing).

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2019 @ 8:10am

      Re:

      Toll keepers leeching off the body public, but they are the makers and the minions are the takers. Why do they get everything backwards?

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

  • icon
    David (profile), 3 Jan 2019 @ 6:10am

    If sites can be fined for hosting copyrighted material, why can't false accusations be fined as well? If a copyright holder asks for $3 million in damages from a site and the accusations are false then the site should get the $3 million from the copyright holder. That would seriously cut back on the practice of "accuse enough people and eventually I'll get a payout".

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2019 @ 11:23am

      Re:

      If a copyright holder asks for $3 million in damages from a site and the accusations are false then the site should get the $3 million from the copyright holder.

      Who's going to pay the politicians to pass that law?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2019 @ 12:23pm

    Many artists hold their own copyrights and don't sell out.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Jan 2019 @ 5:49pm

      Re:

      Name them?

      Any time the relationship between artists and labels are brought up, the artists who do sell out are considered the majority to justify labels' existence. So you'll have to do some pretty obscure naming.

      Assuming a large enough pool to constitute "many" exists. And according to John Smith, "hobbyists" don't count.

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


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