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TorrentSpy Ordered By Judge to Become MPAA Spy 372

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the watching-the-watchmen dept.
PC Guy writes "TorrentSpy, one of the world's largest BitTorrent sites, has been ordered by a federal judge to monitor its users. They are asked to keep detailed logs of their activities which must then be handed over to the MPAA. Ira Rothken, TorrentSpy's attorney responded to the news by stating: 'It is likely that TorrentSpy would turn off access to the U.S. before tracking its users. If this order were allowed to stand, it would mean that Web sites can be required by discovery judges to track what their users do even if their privacy policy says otherwise.'"
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TorrentSpy Ordered By Judge to Become MPAA Spy

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  • well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dance_Dance_Karnov (793804) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @09:23AM (#19450077) Homepage
    now no one will use torrentspy. It never ceases to amaze me how hard some people will try to put the genie back in the bottle.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by LiquidCoooled (634315)
      The problem is people will continue to use it.
      New people discover filesharing every day and how would they know about this ruling?

      The other possiblity is that people will just not hear about the news, you could post it on slash everyday (it probably will actually...) and there would always be people who won't have heard.
      • Re:well (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Tassach (137772) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @09:44AM (#19450201)

        New people discover filesharing every day and how would they know about this ruling?
        The same way they discovered filesharing in the first place -- word of mouth.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by cshake (736412)
          Example: A friend of mine sets up a DC++ hub on our college campus to get around the off-campus bandwidth caps. Entirely through word of mouth, we have 20TB and 200 people at any given time logged in. (out of 3500 students). Everyone who shares any decent amount and/or can call themselves a geek is on it.

          The new content is provided by those of us with accounts on private sources, such as newsgroups, ftp, or private torrent sites. It's also provided by the incoming freshman class each year that has new thing
          • my college had one of those too when i was in college. That is until some idiot CS major decided to ssh into a campus computer and access the network from there and transfer a few gigs to his offsite computer. Of course ITS found out about it after that and shut it down. It was sweet while it lasted. So fast too.
  • The Pirate Bay (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Brother Dysk (939885) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @09:30AM (#19450125)
    Yet another reason to use the Pirate Bay - being based in Sweden, it's incredibly unlikely that much action will be taken against it, especially in the current political climate there (as a direct result of the raid). Now they just need a way to clearly mark torrents that are tracked only by them...
    • Yeah, it's not like anyone could just connect to their trackers and get the IP addresses of nearly everybody else in the swarm.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Threni (635302)
        > Yeah, it's not like anyone could just connect to their trackers and get the IP addresses of nearly everybody else in the swarm.

        So hide you IP address:

        https://www.relakks.com/?lang=en [relakks.com]

        or

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tor_(anonymity_networ k) [wikipedia.org]

        or both

        (Note: I don't care what you say about using TOR in this way. There's nothing you can do about it, and really you want *all* activity - voip, email, surfing - funnelled through it.)
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Chandon Seldon (43083)

          Relakks is an excellent solution to this class of problem. TOR is not - It'll be dog slow, and you'll be slowing down other people who have interactive tasks they're trying to accomplish over TOR, like web browsing.

    • Re:The Pirate Bay (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@gmaiCHEETAHl.com minus cat> on Saturday June 09, 2007 @09:47AM (#19450211) Homepage
      How is that post interesting? You're basically saying "we should be violating the copyright using a more attractive source so we won't get caught."

      As much as I hate the douchebags in the maffia [and well actors/singers in general] I respect their right to make a living by selling their productions. If whatever you're pirating is actually worth it to you, find a way to acquire it such that the people who made it still get paid. Otherwise, your "wonderful" solution involves artists [who are at the bottom of the money foodchain] not getting paid.

      Why not get a job and just by whatever media you like.

      Tom
      • Re:The Pirate Bay (Score:5, Interesting)

        by the_womble (580291) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @10:09AM (#19450313) Homepage Journal

        I respect their right to make a living by selling their productions.

        You could reword that "...make a living by being paid the licensing fees required by their government mandated monopolies."

        Why not get a job and just by whatever media you like.

        Because the only thing I have ever pirated does not appear to be available in the country in which I live. Is that a good reason? If they do not have a mechanism for me to pay them, they can hardly complain about not being paid.
        • You could reword that "...make a living by being paid the licensing fees required by their government mandated monopolies."
          Thats the price of having them produce it - oh and by the way, all property law is an artificial government mandated monopoly, so next time you leave your car in a car park and walk away from it, consider that (and no, Im not comparing copyright infringement to theft, so attack my argument, not a tangent you want to in order to make you feel good).
      • by Znork (31774)
        "I respect their right to make a living by selling their productions."

        I see few objecting to anyone making a living by selling their productions. I do see objections to anyone controlling what anyone else may produce.

        Increasing Bill the Chairmakers ability to collect revenue by forbidding anyone else from making similar chairs isnt a sane free market policy. The fact that immaterial products are easier to copy doesnt change the basic premise just as the development of a chair-duplicator would suddenly make
  • Neat move (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Deadstick (535032) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @09:31AM (#19450131)
    It is likely that TorrentSpy would turn off access to the U.S. before tracking its users.

    Which is to say, game, set and match, MPAA.

    rj

    • Re:Neat move (Score:5, Informative)

      by bishiraver (707931) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @09:58AM (#19450255) Homepage
      Interesting point.

      Both europe and asia have more users online than north america at this point. When it comes to the internet, populationwise we are shrinking in power.

      Anecdotally, most of the innovation I see in web design recently comes out of Sweden. I actually think that other countries might (if not already have already) surpass the US in terms of net export of brainpower, invention, and developmental progress (as opposed to hardware progress). Not only with our national deficit, but with this trend.. Well, I'm not an analyst.

      Anyway, actions like the MPAA's (if indeed TorrentSpy decides to cut access to the US), while relatively minor in the scope of things (there will always be other trackers) is evidence of a trend of self-sanctions. Instead of us putting economic sanctions on other countries (iraq, cuba), our actions are causing other countries to effectively sanction us...
  • by zenlessyank (748553) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @09:34AM (#19450149)
    Um, Does anyone remember FTP? Or the other 69 methods of moving files around? This is just another sad attempt for someone to try to control something they dont like! The internet has become The Tree of Knowledge that God banned from us long ago, and some people don't like it!! This will stop piracy about as well as burying a goat's head in your back yard to ward off evil spirits!! DEATH TO THE MAN!!!
    • Re:Quit Crying!!! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Teifion (1022083) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @09:44AM (#19450195) Homepage

      This will stop piracy about as well as burying a goat's head in your back yard to ward off evil spirits!!
      I was told that a goats head stops Depression but it may or may not stop spirits, to stop piracy I beleive you are looking for 2/3rds of an African Elephants left tusk, 1 cucumber and a kilogram of horseraddish. Take these and place them in a box then bury that in your garden. If you don't have a garden, well, I cannot help you.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by RaboKrabekian (461040)
        That this was modded insightful gives me hope for the future.
        • Re:Quit Crying!!! (Score:5, Informative)

          by Lazarian (906722) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @11:41AM (#19450899)
          Being modded funny doesn't boost one's karma. Lately more people have been modding insightful or informative to help boost fellow contributor's karma points.

          Either that or someone is really digging a hole in their garden.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by OverlordQ (264228)
            That's what's broken with the mod system. I agree funny shouldn't get karma, but people voting informative/insightful should be M2'd as wrong, nothing informative or insightful about that no matter what you're attentions are.

            There's a reason funny doesn't get the karma bonus, it's to encourage GOOD DIALOG, not one-liners.
    • While true alternate downloads mechanisms exist, how many people in the public have access to pirate FTP sites? Bittorrent brought illegal downloading of movies to the masses. Before bittorrent most people had no idea where or how to download movies on the internet.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by gravij (685575)

        Before bittorrent most people had no idea where or how to download movies on the internet.
        Sure they did, it was called Kazaa lite and it was the greatest thing ever. The only problem was that they were on dial-up or something similarly slow. Bit torrent is great, but the fact that you need to find a client and a tracker and a torrent file puts it out of reach of a large group.
      • by maeka (518272)

        Before bittorrent most people had no idea where or how to download movies on the internet.

        Wasn't that a nice time to be alive?
        Less self-righteous "freedom fighters" who don't understand the true meaning of civil disobedience.
        Less harebrained ISP throttling methods attempting to manage out of control P2P bandwidth.
        No anti-piracy warnings before the showing of films in the theater.
        A vibrant, helpful, and well-oiled USENET community.

        (ok, so maybe that last one never existed.)

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Zeussy (868062)
        I wouldn't really say brought illegal downloading to the masses. If you walk up to the average person in the street and ask them if they use the internet, you would probably get a yes. If you then asked do you use bittorrent, or know what it is, you would probably get a no.

        The fact is torrents are mainly used by students, the less well of or the damn right stingy, and no matter what you do to these people no will not part money unless they have to, either because they can't afford to. The stingy people you
    • by westlake (615356)
      Um, Does anyone remember FTP?

      There have been 119 million downloads of LimeWire from Download.com. 45 million downloads of BitComet. 15 million downloads of SmartFTP. 1 million downloads of Xnews.

      The back corners of the Internet - accessible through software only a Geek could love - are fading from memory. If you ever knew they existed.

  • Privacy policy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by UbuntuDupe (970646) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @09:42AM (#19450185) Journal
    If this order were allowed to stand, it would mean that Web sites can be required by discovery judges to track what their users do even if their privacy policy says otherwise.'"

    You know, I heard in some countries, they can tap the phones if they get a court order, even though the privacy policy of the people talking says otherwise.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Brother Dysk (939885)
      You know, I heard in some countries, they can tap the phones if they get a court order, even though the privacy policy of the people talking says otherwise.

      Surely it's the privacy policy of the telecom that's the issue in the example of a phonetap. If this order were allowed to stand, it would mean that Web sites can be required by discovery judges to track what their users do even if their privacy policy says otherwise.

      Also, if TorrentSpy are forced to monitor users, what's to prevent them from chang
    • by Morgaine (4316) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @11:07AM (#19450685)
      >> You know, I heard in some countries, they can tap the phones if they get a court order, even though the privacy policy of the people talking says otherwise.

      You're referring to wiretaps placed on specific individuals. This is very different.

      Here this judge has ruled that the equivalent of wiretaps be placed on all customers of this company, regardless of their standing, oblivious to all issues of privacy, and at the behest of another corporation rather than a government agency. It is quite without precedent.

      But this ruling won't stand for long, is my guess.

      Every company wishing to undermine its competitors could demand that they implement similar internal monitoring to ensure that there is no infringement of their copyrights. For example, Microsoft could demand that all fileserver transactions in named large corporations be monitored and their logs be made available to MS in support of suits for infringement of Windows and Office copyrights.

      In that direction lies madness, even worse than the current one. It's so grossly anti-competitive and so utterly dismissive of privacy considerations that it'll get overturned pretty quickly, I would guess.

      In fact, that judge is going to get severly panned for a whole raft of reasons brought out in this thread. His ruling really verges on the incompetent. Or of course, it could be much worse than simple incompetence --- this does smell a bit of corruption, not necessarily driven by MPAA dollars but by old-boy network handshakes with their lawyers.

      Pretty grim all 'round, even by the US's rapidly collapsing standards.
      • In that direction lies madness...

        You know, people really don't talk this way anymore, and that is a shame. Common discuorse vocabulary has lost most of its verve and spice, as we aim for ever more dull verbal constructions that, above all, avoid emotional reactions in our communicative subjects. I know this verges on off-topic, but I think that 'madness' is an appropriately gravitic and perjorative term for what most would simply describe as unfortunate or lamentable, even if they truly felt much deeper

  • Awww (Score:2, Insightful)

    by db32 (862117)
    Poor little copyright violators are going to have to find a new source to steal from while making high and mighty moral claims about how evil the **AA groups are. I think the RIAA and MPAA can rot, and sincerely hope that this trend of the government to support their broken business model of attacking the citizens with insane claims ends soon. However, I am so sick of people getting up in arms about these shutdowns, and then wave their tiny little banner of "but bittorrent is used for legal stuff" yeah..
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by janrinok (846318)

      Firstly, not everyone is downloading illegal material. I accept that this might account for the majority of torrent traffic but it appears to me that everyone will be penalised for the actions of a smaller group of people, however large that group might be. And it goes someway to explain how you think if you believe that ONLY illegal traffic is moved by torrents. I can download more linux isos by torrent than I would wish to do by http/ftp. There are many books - legally released in electronic format -

      • t will not stop torrent traffic, so what has actually been achieved?

        Monitoring of legal traffic. For some reason, the Total Information Awareness crowd thinks that's useful. They also think they can get usefull information from torture. That or they might just want to be able to embarrass, humiliate and otherwise abuse people who don't agree with them. Control what it's all about isn't it?

        Aren't you glad the USSR was dismantled? Isn't it nice we no longer have police states like East Germany, wher

    • by MightyYar (622222)
      Congratulations on making a remarkably condescending post.

      The world that you wish for is not realistic and isn't going to happen. There may be a lot of whiners on here, but you are being one of them.
  • hey (Score:5, Funny)

    by dominious (1077089) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @09:52AM (#19450227)
    everyone start sharing goatse material with torrentspy. The MPAA will freak out:)
  • by Zantetsuken (935350) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @10:00AM (#19450267) Homepage
    Ok, so if they do just "block the entire US" whats to say somebody won't set up a mirror, a howto on using Proxy servers outside the US, or IP spoofing (not sure if that would work with downloads though...) or any of a billion other ways to get around this?
  • Not lawful (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @10:10AM (#19450317)
    I don't believe the courts have the power to make an order like this, regardless of whether or not it is enforceable.

    Actually, by the sounds of this, I think the judge could get impeached. Let us hope the ACLU or someone gets involved.
  • If this order were allowed to stand, it would mean that Web sites can be required by discovery judges to track what their users do even if their privacy policy says otherwise.
    No - it means, the sites have to change their privacy policy by court order.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 09, 2007 @10:14AM (#19450331)
    Unbelievable.

    One way or another, it seems that the MPAA is determined to obtain information about TorrentSpy and its users. A complaint issued by TorrentSpy suggests the MPAA paid a hacker $15,000 to steal e-mail correspondence and trade secrets. The hacker admitted that this was true.


  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @10:26AM (#19450393)
    Was basing in a country with rather liberal copyright policies. I said back in the days of Napster that was their major flaw. Had they been based in a country with little or no regaurd for IP rights, what could have been done about it? That is the paradox of an open internet that governments have been trying to solve.

    It was only a matter of time before governments began trying to figure out a way to regulate the Internet. All governments like control and the internet is by its very nature hard to control, and designed to be a nigh bit diffcult because of redundancy, etc. Sure China and Saudi Arabia and other countries try by limiting the number of ISPs and including filters, but people still find a way.

    If you want to do something illegal on the net and can find a way to make money at it (the real tragic flaw of Napster), then there are a host of countries that would be happy to host for a percentage. And I'm not sure if anything can really be done to stop that. Trying to stop drugs hasn't worked.

  • by Catil (1063380) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @10:31AM (#19450433)
    From TFA:

    According to the MPAA, Torrentspy helps others commit copyright infringement by directing people to sites which enable them to download copyright material, an offense claims the MPAA, of secondary copyright infringement.
    So does Google [google.com] and perhaps every other searchengine as well. Oh, and /. because it now links to Google, right?

    I really think that with all these torrent-sites providing access to content people should pay for, things have gone too far, but so does going after sites that link to sites that host torrents that provide connection to a tracker to find people sharing the files - and even these people are in most cases still far away from the original source.
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @10:51AM (#19450567)
    Other countries seem to have far more liberal standards when it comes to p2p. As already mentioned, Pirate Bay is hosted in a foreign country over which we do not currently have jurisdiction, nor plan to. (no oil.) So, unless the US can apply pressure to the government over there, those people are immune to the consequences. The only option the US would have is to go the China route, start blocking access to servers Big Brother feels don't support of morals and standards of Fremurica.

    I think we've already established that the MAFIAA are DDT and file-sharing sites are cockroaches: all their efforts to kill off the population just drives the evolution of the technology and breeds a better roach. Seriously, without the MAFIAA we'd probably all still be using Napster and complaining about the broken songs.

    Where is the endgame here? Does P2P win and the MAFIAA is reduced to paying for a few token arrests and prosecutions? Does it go the route of illegal drugs where p2p is available if you know where to look for it but no intelligent person would run the risk of losing everything with a bust? A lot of casual pot smokers I know have gone that route, they'd love to spark up now and again but they have too much to lose now between career and family, it's just not worth it.

    What's kind of funny here is that stuff can go on under the radar for years before it blows up big enough for the media to comment on. Digital content piracy was going on for years and years before we even had broadband. All the porn getting traded over bulletin boards via dial-up was nothing more than scans from porno mags. I can't say there were never any lawsuits filed over this but I certainly never heard of them. And still, this was obscure enough that only the geeks even knew it existed or commonly had computers to download it. The closest most girls ever came to a computer in those days was asking a geek friend to help them type up a report. Filesharing met that perfect storm when more non-geek kids got computers for school, broadband became commercially available, and Napster made the whole process so easy no geek had to explain it. And those broadband speeds meant that images were no longer the only feasible thing to trade.

    One thing is for sure, this genie is not going back in the bottle. Our economy is in decline, real earnings are down, we're getting squeezed on gas, food costs, etc. We can't pirate a tank of gas but we can download the latest blockbuster. What do you think is going to happen? I think most geeks here can see the difference in their own consumption dynamics. When I was a teenager, I didn't have any cash so I downloaded all my software. In college, still no cash so I pirated all my anime. And damn, it took a long time to hunt down all the individual episodes of a series. But three hours of effort could save me $150 for the DVD's, well worth the effort. But once I graduated and had a real income, my time became more valuable than what I could save by pirating, it was easier to buy. I don't have to hunt down crappy encodes, then waste time organizing and burning to CD's, etc. But if I was ever reduced to the cashflow of a college student, the entertainment budget would be the first to get cut.
  • by forgoil (104808) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @11:16AM (#19450735) Homepage
    The government has no reason to care about the whole IP debacle really. What it really is a question of is an old industry with awfully rich people in charge (don't give me crap about starving artists, the fat cats that took their money in the first place could starting paying it back...) that has grown accustomed to ripping artists and consumers alike off. Music survived an awful long time before the RIAA, and so did acting before MPAA. It is a transition, which no government should interfere with. The industry and the artist and consumers alike must find a new balance. I've heard that people pay to listen to live music for instance, maybe that is how music should pay the bills, not recordings of it? Who knows but the future.

    What the government *SHOULD* interfere with is price fixing, Mafia tactics, scare tactics, extortion, invading of privacy, breaking the law, etc. Which these bloody people are doing all the time. This what is getting to me, why should any government on earth be allowed to persecute individuals the way RIAA/MPAA and their friends are doing. I do not live in the US, but please please, everyone, do read this Wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org] and really think about what it says. If what the RIAA/MPAA is doing isn't cruel and unusual, nothing else. When beating and raping people is seen as a lesser crime than copying certain combinations of 1s and 0s, this are both cruel, and soon getting all to usual!
  • that needs to take a course in the history of science and technology.
  • by kaos07 (1113443) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @11:48AM (#19450943)
    Doing a quick IP trace http://visualroute.visualware.com/ [visualware.com] tells us that Torrentspy is located in the Netherlands. How exactly does that fit into all this?
  • I've pretty much had it with companies who treat their policy as if it were the law of the land.
    Yes, when you enter into a contract you are bound by its terms, but the idea that any policy is immutable is gaining acceptance and seems to be the norm at least on the companies' parts.

  • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Saturday June 09, 2007 @03:00PM (#19452187) Homepage Journal
    A hacker that had hacked TS and was paid by the MPAA to do so has turned double-agent and is now giving every detail out to TS. TS might likely sue the MPAA for employing someone to perform an illegal activity.

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