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MPAA Caught Uploading Fake Torrents 579

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the old-bait-and-switch dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The MPAA and other anti-piracy watchdogs have been caught trapping people into downloading fake torrents, so they can collect IP addresses, and send copyright infringement letters to ISPs. The battle between P2P networks and copyright holders seems to be a never ending battle. It will be interesting to see how much the anti-piracy groups practices change once they begin begin selling movies and TV shows legally on bittorrent.com."
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MPAA Caught Uploading Fake Torrents

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  • I guess that Slashdot has been caught uploading fake headlines as well.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      If the MPAA is knowingly uploading something to you then they are giving their OK to you to accept it.

      This is no different than if I hand you a dollar (or a fake dollar). I am agreeing to give it to you.

      The MPAA is in full control of the content or fake content. If the MPAA has agreements with record labels not to give anything away for free then that is the MPAA's problem.

  • ZOMG!! (Score:2, Funny)

    by russ1337 (938915)
    OMG the cops were also caught planting fake cars waiting to be stolen so they could catch car theives!!
    • Re:ZOMG!! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Fez (468752) * on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:24PM (#17566250)
      Only in this case, no actual theft has occurred. If it's fake, there is no crime. Sure there may be intent, but how exactly are you supposed to infringe on the copyright of a nonexistent work?
      • Re:ZOMG!! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Nasarius (593729) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:27PM (#17566288)
        And AFAIK, copyright infringement requires unauthorized *distribution*. Attempting to acquire bootleg material is, at best, a trivial offense. So what exactly are they claiming when they "notify" the ISPs?
        • Re:ZOMG!! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by kfg (145172) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:41PM (#17566496)
          And AFAIK, copyright infringement requires unauthorized *distribution*. . .

          No, unauhtorized distribution is a requirement for copyright infringement to be deemed a criminal matter, but the law is called copyright, not distribution right. The right to distribute is a corallary right of the right to copy, since the former depends on the latter.

          If you are the legitimate owner of the physical media you may distribute at will. You do not need any special authorization, the person who created it did. CD stores are not licensed, they just buy "stuff," property, and resell it.

          So what exactly are they claiming when they "notify" the ISPs?

          That their copyright has been violated, because it has. The downloader is making a copy, without authorization. Yes, it's a trivial civil offense. That isn't at all the same thing as saying it isn't an offense.

          KFG
        • Re:ZOMG!! (Score:5, Informative)

          by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:54PM (#17566680) Journal
          So what exactly are they claiming when they "notify" the ISPs?
          That you downloaded/uploaded a file called "XXX.YYY.AVI"

          AFAIK, nobody has actually gotten around to forcing the **AA into proving anything in court.

          And again, AFAIK, the **AA hasn't had anything more than screenshots of alleged sharing as evidence
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by stewbacca (1033764)
            Chances are if you download their fake copy, you are bound to have other real and illegal copies of other stuff. It is bogus entrapment, and I'd laugh it out of court if I were a judge.

            There is no crime involved by downloading a fake torrent, because you aren't getting any copyrighted material. Intent? What is the intent? "My intent was to see what was in this file that was made freely available (offered even!) via the internet. If I found it to have copyrighted material, I would have removed it. Bu

          • by Joce640k (829181) on Friday January 12, 2007 @05:02AM (#17570606) Homepage
            Doesn't matter about the rights/wrongs/legalities of anything.

            No RIAA case has ever gone to trial, either they scare the defendants into handing over some money or they drop the case when real lawyers get involved.

            The only important thing is that ISPs get accustomed to handing over user account details and that the press keeps on reporting that people are landing in court because they downloaded stuff.

            i.e. It's a FUD campaign.

      • Re:ZOMG!! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:27PM (#17566296)

        The MPAA still holds the copyright on the sequence of bytes it did upload... but it also gave permission to copy by the act of uploading it! (This is necessarily the case, because otherwise I could just as easily say that you were infringing my copyright by reading this post.)

        • Re:ZOMG!! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Leftist Troll (825839) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:32PM (#17566358)
          The MPAA still holds the copyright on the sequence of bytes it did upload... but it also gave permission to copy by the act of uploading it!

          The MPAA didn't upload any copyrighted material. They're seeding garbage files that are labeled as actual content and collecting IPs.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Nasarius (593729)
            US copyright law doesn't require any explicit statement or registration. In general, you own the copyright on anything you produce. Nothing is public domain unless it is explicitly released as such.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              Isn't it funny the way Slashdotters never care about the law over what pirates do, but when it's something the MPAA does, suddenly we're all splitting legal hairs and explaining the law? What about the law that says you can't rip people off by infringing on their copyrights and stealing their stuff? Or do artist rights not matter anymore on Slashdot?

              Digg has gotten even worse. It's a pro-piracy haven where they even actively spread piracy tips to help others steal artists' stuff.
              • Re:ZOMG!! (Score:5, Insightful)

                by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Friday January 12, 2007 @05:49AM (#17570862)

                Isn't it funny the way Slashdotters never care about the law over what pirates do, but when it's something the MPAA does, suddenly we're all splitting legal hairs and explaining the law? What about the law that says you can't rip people off by infringing on their copyrights and stealing their stuff? Or do artist rights not matter anymore on Slashdot?

                Digg has gotten even worse. It's a pro-piracy haven where they even actively spread piracy tips to help others steal artists' stuff.
                In this case, however, the so-called "artists" put up their copyrighted "works" (actually, just garbage, but as they created it, they actually do own the copyright to it) on a torrent server by themselves, free for the taking. They cannot then turn around and whine "you're stealing from us" when people do use the free service that they set up.

                It's akin to a shop setting up a bin somewhere labeled "free samples", and then siccing the cops on those unsuspecting customers who "steal" from that bin...

      • Re:ZOMG!! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by XanC (644172) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:32PM (#17566366)
        That doesn't stop the cops from posing as 13-year-olds online to nab child predators. I'm honestly not sure how that works in court. How can one be convicted of soliciting a minor when there is no minor? Very similar to the fake torrent scenario.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LordEd (840443)
          My solution is simple. I host all of my Linux distribution under code names that just happen to correspond to some movie names. Its not my fault if I 'accidentally' download the wrong humorously named Linux distribution.
        • Re:ZOMG!! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Lesrahpem (687242) <iadnah@nospAM.uplinklounge.com> on Thursday January 11, 2007 @09:07PM (#17566814) Homepage
          In my opinion there's a huge difference here. Even if the MPAA put up real files they still should not be able to do anything about you downloading them because they are the copyright holders. This is the same thing as when an artist puts up a song for free download on their website. You can't get in trouble for downloading it because the copyright holder is the one offering the file.
        • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @09:15PM (#17566882)
          There is a difference. In some primitive countries you can get busted for soliciting to buy/sell sex with/as a prostitute. You don't actually have to have sex for it to be a crime, soliciting is in itself a crime. That is why the cops can bust you just for asking.

          Many crimes however require that you actually do something. I beleive that copyright infringement is like that.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mordors9 (665662)
        Oh Grasshopper... I am disappointed. This isn't about what is legal or not. This is about intimidation and abuse of power. Most of the tactics the MPAA have employed were legally dubious. They know that they can scare the ISP into action. They can extort a couple grand out of you (or your parent) because you can not afford to combat them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Snarfangel (203258)
      In this case, it's like putting a pile of junk beside the road and sticking a carboard sign on it that says "car." I wonder what the value of random digital garbage is.
    • Re:ZOMG!! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Pantero Blanco (792776) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:36PM (#17566416)
      1. These aren't cops, or law enforcement of any kind.
      2. If you put your own car out by the road with a "free car" sign on it, you can't accuse someone who takes it of GTA.
      3. If the cops actually plant a "fake car" like you describe, the perpetrator is not guilty of Grand Theft Auto, as no car has been taken.
    • Re:ZOMG!! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Wanon (808109) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @09:00PM (#17566730)
      OMG the cops were also caught planting fake cars waiting to be stolen so they could catch car theives!!

      Grr, Copyright Infringement ISN'T THEFT!
      REPEAT AFTER ME!
      Copyright Infringement ISN'T THEFT!

      It would be more like the cops planting a fake car and then someone copying the design of the fake car, so they could catch people copying their design.
      • Re:ZOMG!! (Score:5, Funny)

        by ignavus (213578) on Friday January 12, 2007 @02:50AM (#17569768)
        Pirates used to sail around the ocean until they saw a pretty looking ship. Then they would copy its design and build their own pretty looking ship.

        That way they could avoid paying a naval architect to design such a ship.

        It drove all those poor naval architects nearly bankrupt.

        We mustn't let it happen again.

        Help stamp out piracy - don't make illegal copies!

        That's why copyright infringement is technically piracy.
  • is that even legal? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ganjadude (952775) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:23PM (#17566236) Homepage
    If you are part of the MPAA and you download a torrent from someone else just to prosecute, technically isnt the MPAA breaking the law as well??

    ( I know off topic slightly )
    • by kimvette (919543)
      no; as the copyright holders they are authorised to expressly approve of P2P distribution. :)
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Snarfangel (203258)
        What if there is a confusing or misleading title on a torrent, and they download something they do not own the copyright for?
    • by crankyspice (63953) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:27PM (#17566300)

      If you are part of the MPAA and you download a torrent from someone else just to prosecute, technically isnt the MPAA breaking the law as well??

      The MPAA operates with the authorization of its member companies. They've presumably authorized the association to make reproductions of the copyrighted content for anti-piracy purposes, and copyright infringement is the unauthorized reproduction (or distribution, or ...) of the protected works, so, at a guess, I'd say they're pretty safe on that one.

      • But if you're authorized to reproduce and reproduce it from an unauthorized source...

        'scuse me, checking for more Aspirin. Strange, every time copyright law gets discussed, my logic center starts hurting.
        • Are you talking about being an individual licensed to reproduce and reproducing from an authorized source, or the MPAA doing so? In the latter case, there is no such thing as an unauthorized source. In the former, we're off topic, but you would be liable for infringement. Whether or not they'd bother to prosecute depends on how big of a dick the rightsholder is.
    • Since the members of the MPAA own all the copy- and distribution rights to their respective works, not to mention that they're the sole source of licensing, they can do whatever they want with the files so long as it is sanctioned by the organization's standards and practices.

      They are the owners in the fullest sense and are above the fray of current IP controversy. They wouldn't bring suits against themselves, and let's say they did one day. It would be dismissed in a heartbeat, because you can't steal
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Traiklin (901982)

        Since the members of the MPAA own all the copy- and distribution rights to their respective works, not to mention that they're the sole source of licensing, they can do whatever they want with the files so long as it is sanctioned by the organization's standards and practices. They are the owners in the fullest sense and are above the fray of current IP controversy. They wouldn't bring suits against themselves, and let's say they did one day. It would be dismissed in a heartbeat, because you can't steal fr

    • by mark-t (151149) <markt@@@lynx...bc...ca> on Thursday January 11, 2007 @09:09PM (#17566826) Journal

      Not at all... the MPAA is authorized to distribute their own content, after all.

      But THEY are the ones choosing to put it on a public network, and its pretty hard to call it copyright infringement when the person you got it from when the person you got it from was authorized to distribute the content in the first place. It's their own choice to honor any download requests, after all... granting such requests is implicitly and indisputably granting permission to copy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I think it's funny the way Slashdot words this. The MPAA was "caught" uploading fake torrents, as if they were doing something wrong when everyone else is illegally pirating their materials.
  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:24PM (#17566262)

    ...then either it wasn't copyright infringment, or the MPAA was infringing too! The only legitimate way for the MPAA to "catch" people committing copyright infringement would be to observe the swarm without uploading anything itself.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Xest (935314) *
      Even in this case would it really be viable evidence? I'm not sure by observing the swarm that you can ever tell that these people have actually received the full file and in that case, with many media formats all you're left with is a file full of random bytes, at what point does it become copyright infringement? I was under the impression in the cases of file sharers they've actually had to demonstrate having downloaded an entire file to prove infringement, merely receiving half a file isn't enough as hal
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bios_Hakr (68586)
      If the MPAA is the copyright holder, they can distribute it however they want. Them offering a torrent would not be infringement.

      You downloading it from the MPAA would also not be infringement. Downloading is illegal.

      However, once you upload a single bit to the MPAA or another party, you have infringed upon the MPAA's right to be the sole distributer.
    • by StikyPad (445176) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @11:58PM (#17568450) Homepage
      You can't infringe on a copyright you already own. At best, it's a defense for the downloaders by saying that the copyright holder made the material freely available. And actually, that seems like a pretty strong defense. If I put a paper on top of the copier with a note that says "Press here to obtain your copy," it would be ridiculous to think I could then sue you for making the copy.

      The only catch is that I could say "You can have a free copy, but you may not redistribute." Since all downloaders of a torrent are also uploaders, you'd be violating the redistribution clause. I highly doubt, however, that any such wording was present in the torrent (although it is possible to add comments). Also, intentionally using a distribution mechanism which by default makes people distributors would seem to be a de facto exception to the clause since you knew, or should have known, that redistribution would occur through your actions.
  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Perseid (660451) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:24PM (#17566264)
    ...if the file is fake and not actually the movie in question is it still piracy?

    ...if the MPAA is uploading it isn't it an authorized download?

    ...or will their lawyers eat mine for lunch?

    ...damn it.
    • Re:So... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:35PM (#17566394)
      Well, technically they can impound you for downloading the fake content, if downloading said content is illegal. They are the originator, it's their 'art', so...

      Though I'd wager it could be kinda hard (provided you find a judge that isn't yet caught up in anti-piracy bubbles) to argue that this isn't a setup, that they didn't want to play agent provocateur. Is that legal in the US?
      • by cfulmer (3166)
        HA! Well, if posting it on a bittorrent site is distribution, then they are certainly allowed to distribute their own work. So, there's no infringement if they make it available for you to download and you do.

        I suspect, though, that they're using that to find people who are sharing other infringing files.
    • If you try to pick up a cop disguised as a hooker, is it still prostitution? Not technically, but you're still going to jail, because had the transaction been permitted to continue, it would have been illegal. The tricky part is allowing it to go far enough to provide a solid foundation, but not allowing the actual infraction to take place. You might have a cause of action against the fake hooker for misrepresentation, so maybe you could use the jail time to brush up on your torts.
  • by Xest (935314) * on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:25PM (#17566266)
    IANAL but surely if the downloads they provide aren't copyright protected content and are in fact junk then you're not actually breaking any law because you're not actually downloading copyrighted content.

    Contrary to that, surely if it is copyrighted content then the MPAA is making the content available to you. Is it really illegal to download something from the copyright owner if they make it available publicly with no license to agree to prior to download? I'd have thought they'd have a hard time arguing that they didn't intend the content be distributed in the case that they place it readily available on a file sharing site. What's more, even if the MPAA did use this argument then surely if this became precedent then it would have the side effect of destroying any court cases against file sharers as those sharers could merely claim that they didn't intend the files they were sharing to be distributed much like the MPAA might in this scenario?

    I just don't see how this really has any legal grounding, however law is a funny thing, particularly in the US so I could be wrong here!
    • It's the uploads! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by whoever57 (658626)
      Contrary to that, surely if it is copyrighted content then the MPAA is making the content available to you. Is it really illegal to download something from the copyright owner if they make it available publicly with no license to agree to prior to download?
      But what about the uploads that the downloaders send to other bittorrent users?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by krotkruton (967718)
      Can you point to a part of the article that says anything about that being illegal? FTA, they are trying to trap people into downloading fake torrents, so they can collect IP addresses, and send copyright infringement letters to ISPs. They aren't prosecuting the people they catch (or at least the article doesn't mention anything of the sort), and I don't know that they need any solid evidence to send a copyright infringement letter to an ISP. According to the article, this is basically a tactic used to i
  • hmm (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Swimport (1034164) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:25PM (#17566272) Homepage
    Attempted copyright infringement?? Is that even illegal?
  • by SoupGuru (723634) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:30PM (#17566332)
    Either they're uploading the real file which means they're in violation of copyright law, which seems unlikely. Or they're uploading the real file but they, as the copyright holder, have deemed it OK to distribute - which means it's OK to go ahead and grab it.

    Or they're dummy files, which means you can go ahead and grab it since there's no copywritten content shifting hands.
  • Calm down (Score:5, Informative)

    by MEGAMAID (791988) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:34PM (#17566388)
    There is an allegation that article about the use of fake torrents by the MPAA to harvest IP address so they can use them to send out infringement notices, which has then been converted to a fact by the submitter.

    I suspect that the MPAA has these fake torrents to confuse people and waste their time downloading junk, in the hope that they'll give up using torrents. It's a very weak link to suggest that these are being used to send copyright infringement notices.
  • by cerebis (560975) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:44PM (#17566540)

    Does anyone recall the media hubbub surrounding the release of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones? That the movie had been released onto P2P networks before it had even hit the theatres in many countries? Incontravertible evidence that something _had_ to be done about this scourge of filesharing!

    A cynic might think it an interesting situation that a dutiful journalist would have to admit to committing a potential crime just to verify the report. A less determined one might just settle for the query results, with the less technologically adept ones being completely convinced: ignorant of the fact that no hard coupling exists between a file's name and its content.

    When the claims were tested for veracity by secret anonymous squirrels, none of the files found on the Gnutella network contained any footage of the film.

  • by gelfling (6534) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:44PM (#17566548) Homepage Journal
    They're not doing this to find content, they're doing this to pre identify suspects for crimes they may commit in the future. Profiling and it's being done by a private party.
  • by NineNine (235196) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:52PM (#17566644)
    They can have my IP. I just use whatever wide-open wireless network is available. Often, that's my town's free wireless program. Have fun, MPAA.
  • by vivek7006 (585218) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @08:54PM (#17566682) Homepage
    66.172.60.XXX,
    66.177.58.XXX,
    66.180.205.XXX,
    209.204.61.XXX,
    216.151.155.XXX

    From the article:
    The anti-piracy servers use hostnames like 101tracker.dhcp.biz, aplustorrents.qhigh.com, bitnova.squirly.info, bittorment.ocry.com, and pirate-trakkrz.leet.la. All these hostnames can be traced back to the same IP Ranges, these ranges contain possibly hundreds of fake trackers, so feel free to block them
  • PeerGuardian? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lenova (919266) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @09:12PM (#17566854)
    Has anyone here used PeerGuardian [phoenixlabs.org] (a P2P IP blocker, with automatic whitelist updates)? Do programs like these actually work at blocker MPAA sniffers, or do they simply provide a false sense of security?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 11, 2007 @09:19PM (#17566942)
    Just one example: I'm the usual nerd fulfiling most cliches, somewhat fluent in english and of course I dig - like every nerd - current TV shows (Battlestar Galactica etc.)

    There's no legal possibilty to obtain those shows legally here. Of course I could wait until they dub it and release it here but this usually takes up one year. Of course with crappy dubbing and no chance of getting the english voice track due to increased cost in licensing - even on pay-tv. Or wait even longer for the DVD release.

    So the only way to obtain those shows is via bittorrent. I know several ppl who do that so there's definitely a market there... but noone is stepping in.

    I know from a legal standpoint I should just do other stuff instead of watching pirated TV shows, but still its quite strange: The mechanisms of the free market somehow don't work here.
  • by heroine (1220) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @09:30PM (#17567062) Homepage
    This sounded rediculous the first time I heard about it. They said people were getting fired from their day jobs and their ISP service disabled not for downloading illegal copies of movies at all. They downloaded a piece of random data that happened to be created by the MPAA.

    Under this law, you can get fired for downloading literally anything. All the lawyers have to do is say any data at all, from a slashdot comment to a DNS entry, was deliberately put there by a client for the purpose of trapping pirates.

    According to Google, there are anecdotes of people losing their home internet access for using BitTorrent, but they don't say if they were busted for downloading fake data or using too much bandwidth.

    There have only been 3 arrests linked to BitTorrent usage. They were all people who made the first copy and who administered the tracker. The MPAA boasts 4 but you can only find 3 names. No-one has been busted for running a client.

  • Bad analogy time! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KNicolson (147698) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @09:31PM (#17567070) Homepage
    Isn't it like leaving in a public place an envelope with "This envelope contains $100 that doesn't belong to you" written on the outside, but just filled with Monopoly money, then deciding to spy on/arrest/sue everyone who looked inside?

    Or, given that piracy is illegal (for suitable values of "piracy" and "illegal"), it's more like catching people peeking inside the brown paper bag in the pr0n store entitled "Underage nymphos at it like knives with farmyard animals".

    Or something.
  • General Recap (Score:5, Informative)

    by ari_j (90255) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @09:48PM (#17567266)
    I don't have a lot of time to work with, but there are a few points going around here that I think ought to be collected in one place:

    Entrapment: No, it's not. Entrapment, in order to work as a legal defense, is when the government takes action that induces you to commit a crime that you would not otherwise have committed. Walking up to you on the street and offering you $100 commission to steal a Rolex is entrapment. Putting up a website that purports to sell illegal machinegun parts is not entrapment, because you would have found some website to buy the parts from anyhow. Sending you a brochure to advertise child pornography and waiting for you to order some is questionable. This activity is somewhere between the child porn brochure and the machinegun parts website, but it is not government action so entrapment isn't a defense. It also doesn't matter, because the MPAA is interested in suing you into oblivion in civil court more than it is interested in seeing you behind bars. (After all, behind bars you can't make any more paychecks for the MPAA to garnish.)

    MPAA consent to downloading content: Nope. They're uploading fake torrents. You are downloading something else, maybe a dump of /dev/unrandom. They are fine with that.

    Downloading fake torrents is legal: Yep, it is. It's just that they're logging your IP address and will file a lawsuit that alleges, "[o]n information and belief, the Defendant has infringed the Plaintiff's copyright by downloading an illegally distributed copy of [the movie you were trying to download when you got the fake torrent]." They know you are going to find a real torrent later and download it, or at least some other movies. They know all they need to: you are a person using a given IP address to attempt to download their copyrighted material and you probably didn't give up when you found out that the torrent they fed you was fake.

    Grabbing your IP address from the fake torrent download doesn't help the MPAA: See previous paragraph.

    Did I miss anything? These seem to be the main issues being covered in the comments so far. The simple fact is that this tactic will probably work for the MPAA.
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @11:24PM (#17568116)
      There really isn't any law dealing with attempted infringement. This isn't criminal law so they can only ask for damages. Well those damamges have to have a basis, either actual or statutory. Since there was no copyrighted material downloaded, no actual daamges can be proved. You can't argue any damage was done by downloading random data. That just leaves the statutory damages, which are the really heavy ones. However if you read the laws on those, they are for infringement, not for attempted infringement. Again since we are talking random data, and random data that the MPAA willing distributed, no infringement occurred.

      Now I'd bet they are smart enough to realise this and this isn't for court cases, they just send the ISPs threatening e-mails to try and get accounts canceled. I don't know that the MPAA is doing lawsuits, that seems to be the RIAA's thing. Most groups just send takedown notices. We got one from the ESA. One of our users had downloaded Quake 4. They didn't file a lawsuit or even ask their name, just asked us to get rid of the file and "take appropriate action as per your terms of service."

      This will work fine for that, since there's no real legal burden. However I can't see it going anywhere in a court of law with a competent defense. There's no actual damage so it's hard to say you deserve any money.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by deblau (68023)

      "[o]n information and belief, the Defendant has infringed the Plaintiff's copyright by downloading an illegally distributed copy of [the movie you were trying to download when you got the fake torrent]."

      The defense is implied consent: "Your Honor, by distributing their own copyrighted file on a p2p network, making it free for download, and not providing any disclaimer or other access control, they gave me permission to download it in accordance with the usual custom on p2p networks."

      On top of which, you

  • by cheros (223479) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @09:52PM (#17567304)
    By publicly seeding the network with false data they're creating a very effective beta test for denial of service when the roles are reversed and the MPAA needs P2P to sell video.

    Strikes me as an idea just a tad short of vision, and the irony is of course that them doing it now without negative effect creates precedent. If in doubt, keep digging?
  • by necro2607 (771790) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @10:17PM (#17567542)
    I recently received a message from my ISP that they had received notice alleging I was sharing copyrighted material from my connection, specifically "Mission Impossible 3" - a spanish version no less - over the eDonkey network. It showed the IP I have indeed had assigned to my home network for the past month or two, and was indeed using eMule. HOWEVER, I was only using it to download software, and in NO situation did I download ANY movies, especially anything in spanish! I know that it sounds totally typical, but I wouldn't be complaining if I got reported for something I actually did.

    Getting reported for sharing something I've never even had is bullshit, though, regardless of what OTHER questionable things I had been doing. It's not a stretch to claim that their incorrect copyright infringement notice leans on illegal because of the possible harm that can come to me as a result. My internet connection could be disconnected at my ISP's will, forcing me to switch to a crappier ISP with higher prices (we have TWO broadband providers here), and my reputation could be harmed due to the false allegations made.
  • Obligatory (Score:3, Funny)

    by BarlowBrad (940854) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @10:20PM (#17567560)
    In Soviet America, MPAA torrents you!
  • by meowsqueak (599208) on Thursday January 11, 2007 @11:04PM (#17567924)
    Funny, only a few minutes ago I read elsewhere about someone in New Zealand who got stung by this a few days ago when Paramount contacted their backwater ISP and had his account temporarily disabled. He got away with a 'warning'.

    http://nzdsl.co.nz/PNphpBB2-viewtopic-t-479.phtml [nzdsl.co.nz]

  • by Anonymous Freak (16973) <prius.driver@nOSPam.mac.com> on Thursday January 11, 2007 @11:16PM (#17568036) Journal
    The 'spoof' file, that is. After all, the xAA is posting it to torrent sites themselves. Doesn't that make the file obviously legal. Therefore, even if it is named something that would be infringing copyright, wouldn't it still be legal to download? Even better, they are offering a file for download that is from the xAA itself, that claims to be some copyright-protected property. Isn't it then false advertising? If I was a major musician, say a certain comedy-minded one, and offered a file on my website for free download, claiming it is a song asking you not to download it, but the file isn't really that song, but just static; could I sue the downloader for trying to download my song? No.

    Even if it is on GooTube instead of my own website, and I don't acknowledge that I put it there, it's still me putting it up for the public to download.

    So no illegal activity has happened. So even though someone who would be downloading the file is the KIND of person who is likely downloading songs in violation of copyright, you haven't caught me doing anything inherently wrong, so how can you sue me?

    i.e. "I caught this guy stealing a copy of my free pamphlet from the gray-market newsstand, so obviously he is stealing copies of non-free magazines, too!"

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