This has been pointed out before
, but never by an academic study: it turns out that many of the infringement notices that get sent by the big entertainment companies are based on incorrect information
, often accusing perfectly legitimate content of being infringing. The study, by some professors at the University of Washington, proved that the notices are sent, rather haphazardly based on whether or not an IP address participates on a file sharing network -- and not whether or not it actually uploads or downloads any content. Specifically, these researchers set about to monitor file sharing networks themselves, and introduced a software agent that watched over what was happening -- but which did not actively upload or download anything itself. But what happened? The researchers received 400 notices
claiming that their IP address had participated in unauthorized file sharing. Basically, as suspected, the industry watchdogs merely list out (easily faked) IP addresses, and use that as their entire body of evidence to file a claim.
So, while this isn't that surprising, it's even more proof of just how flimsy the RIAA/MPAA evidence is when they file these suits. Even worse, when this information is the basis of DMCA takedown notices, it's potentially a violation of the law -- as part of filing a DMCA takedown is swearing that you have proof that infringement occurred. The scary thing is that all of this has been pointed out to the industry before -- and yet the folks involved still seem to think that they
are above the law. For all their moralizing about "pirates" not obeying the law, you would think that they would be careful about making sure they weren't breaking the law themselves. Apparently not.
: Realizing I left out the best part. In showing how the IP addresses can be easily faked, the researchers used the IP address of three laser printers
who were then accused of "making available" unauthorized material. Somehow, I get the feeling this particular research paper is going to find its way into a variety of legal battles in the near future.