MPAA Suing Torrent and NZB Indexing Sites
Apparently the MPAA/RIAA thugs have decided that suing dead people and children wasn’t working too well so now they’ve started phantom lawsuits against seven indexing sites. In the latest round of lawsuits, the MPAA is targeting both torrent and NZB indexing sites such as isoHunt, and NZB-Zone. Although the validity of suing sites which index (but not host) material like a search engine is questionable at best, it isn’t stopping the MPAA/RIAA from trying. What is even more peculiar about these filings is the defendants haven’t been informed yet. Instead, they have been reading about it on the sites like Boing Boing.
“Funny, they didn’t email me,” Gary from ISOHunt said. “I’m not too concerned because we deal with copyright requests everyday, some of them from studios MPAA represents.”
“Justin” from TorrentSpy echoed Gary’s skepticism. “I guess I will learn more when I see what they have filed exactly. [I’m] not sure why they are suing when we comply with DMCA requests but I guess we will learn more down the road.”
In a thread on Slyck Forums, user
d9binnews echoed the thoughts of defendant BinNews:
Well, we at binnews have not been given anything. We found out just like you guys, from the news sites. We are waiting to see what the documents say but we have never received anything from them. It goes without saying, we plan on fighting this as far as it needs to go.
In another thread,
d9binnews continues by saying:
we have been storing funds for just this. … Now all we need is some actual papers that make this lawsuit official.
well we will not go down without a fight. our only concern at this late hour is hosting.. we are currently looking for an overseas host just in case they decide to go after our provider. We cant fault them if they waiver, so we want to be ready to flip the switch to a backup server overseas. If anyone has any suggestions, please either PM here or email.
It is pretty clear that the MPAA has yet to notify some, if not all, of the parties involved in the case. Until the filings are made public, we can only make guesses as to what the suit is alleging. What we do know is none of the torrent sites named run their own trackers but keep files pointing to trackers often times located on foreign soil. The NZB sites provide files that, like torrents, only contain pointers to locate files on newsgroups hosted on local ISP news servers. Chances are very high that the MPAA ISP is hosting much of the content on its news servers the NZB files on the defendants’ servers point to but no ISP was named in the suit nor should they be because of their role as common carriers.
MPAA, according to the press release, believes these sites facilitate infringements of copyrighted works but anyone can clearly see that argument can be applied to any search engine, VCR, DVD/CD recorder, video camera, computer, one-click hosting service and even broadband internet service. I’d even go as far as to say the human voice facilitate[s] infringements of copyrighted works by informing people of where to find these files. Are all those pieces of equipment and the human voice worthy of a lawsuit? No, but I’m sure the MPAA will try. The difference is that all the items listed have many legal uses so the MPAA argument may hinge on the fact that indexing services overwhelmingly serve to facilitate infringement without much other use. Even then, instead of suing indexing services, ISPs, or manufacturers of electronic equipment, the MPAA should be focusing on the end users infringing copyrights by fairly applying local laws. Is essence, this lawsuit punishes the billboard maker that says the home down street is unlocked instead of prosecuting the criminal that chooses to use the information to steal property (clarification: sharing copyrighted works is infringement NOT theft). Throwing a dragnet over these sorts of sites won’t stop users from committing copyright infringement–it will only slow them down until another site takes the place of the ones that shutdown.
Although I don’t wish any site to have to go through a defense against MPAA charges, I found it difficult to understand the reason for leaving Newzbin out of the suit. They are probably the biggest NZB site on the internet but the MPAA decided to not wrangle them into this round of lawsuits. Some have suggested that Newzbin’s location in the United Kingdom prevented their inclusion. Quite frankly, this explanation may have merit. If that is the case, then much like the OSX86China Forum that popped up after the recent DMCA related shutdowns of OSx86 related sites, these sorts of indexes will push their servers onto foreign soil. Can we all say whac-a-mole?
I’ve included the MPAA press release below. About the only information it provides is links to the sites for anyone who may not know about them already. Maybe the MPAA is hoping the flood of people going to the sites will bring them down through an unintended DDoS without any legal work being necessary?
Update (2.24.2006): I just wanted to point out that the MPAA pirates software. In this press release, scroll down to the footer of page 1 or 2. A link will pop up to Iteksoft. Strange, I would have thought that after the millions they’ve sued for that they could pay for a $30 piece of software.
Update (2.25.2006): isoHunt is not going down without a fight according to a posting on the front page. Apparently, isoHunt and TorrentBox have formed a coalition with the hope to fight for the right for technological progress and the legality of the search engine itself.
STUDIOS MOVE TO THWART ILLEGAL FILE
SWAPPING ON MAJOR PIRATE NETWORKS
MPAA Companies Take Action Against Torrent,
eDonkey and Newsgroup Sites Used by Millions
Los Angeles– The Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) on behalf of the major motion picture studios today filed seven lawsuits in federal courts across the country against highly trafficked Torrent, eDonkey and Newsgroup websites that are responsible for facilitating illegal swapping of copyrighted files between millions of users around the world. They provide a massive directory of illegal content to users and encourage people to traffic in copyrighted motion pictures, televisions shows, music, software and games. Torrentspy.com and Isohunt.com are two of the most popular sites used for finding pirated content. By taking action against these sites today, MPAA aims to build on its effort to shut down major pirate networks by thwarting their supply of illegal materials and their means of distribution.
“Website operators who abuse technology to facilitate infringements of copyrighted works by millions of people are not anonymous – they can and will be stopped,” said John G. Malcolm, Executive Vice President and Director of Worldwide Anti-Piracy Operations for the MPAA. “Disabling these powerful networks of illegal file distribution is a significant step in stemming the tide of piracy on the Internet.”
These sites are sophisticated enterprises designed to make vast quantities of illegal content available with a single click of a mouse. Torrentspy.com boasts over 48,300 files of movie and television shows available to users, and divides its available movie content by genres, and even includes movies illegally camcorded in a theater (“cam”) as a subcategory. Torrentbox.com, working in conjunction with Isohunt, boasts of enabling over one million illegal downloads of Fantastic Four and over 4.4 million downloads of Alien 2.
Today’s lawsuits mark the first time the MPAA is taking action against sites that enable users of Newsgroups to easily find and download illegal content. Newsgroups are electronic bulletin boards which in recent years have become a major source of pirated content as users are able to attach movie, music and games files to their messages. The following is a list of the sites being sued by the MPAA and its member companies.
Isohunt.com, BTHub.com and TorrentBox.com: These related Torrent sites facilitate downloads of over 140,000 content items, including popular movies and television shows such as Wedding Crashers, Lost and Desperate Housewives.
TorrentSpy.com is the world’s most-visited site for obtaining infringing content using Torrent software. The site offers over 160,000 content items including 27,182 movies, 21,130 TV shows and over 45,000 music items.
NiteShadow.com has over 24,000 registered members and offers over 1,000 science-fiction TV and movie content including Battlestar Galactica, Quantum Leap, Sliders, Stargate, Babylon 5 and multiple Star Trek series.
Ed2k-It.com is a leading eDonkey site, with over 46,000 registered site members. eDonkey sites provide easy one-click access to specific content items on their peer-to-peer network.
NZB-Zone.com, BinNews.com and DVDRs.net are membership-based websites that enable users of Newsgroups to initiate easy downloads of infringing content. NZB-Zone offers over 3.3 million files, including Star Wars Episode III, Wedding Crashers, Chronicles of Narnia, 40 Year-Old Virgin and King Kong; BinNews.com offers files for over 3,000 movies; and DVDRs.net has over 37,000 members.
Today’s lawsuits are part of MPAA’s international campaign against online piracy which has experienced some significant victories as of late. Last week the server facilitating one of the largest Torrent sites in the Netherlands, Dikkedonder, was shut down and on Monday, Belgian and Swiss authorities shut down Razorback2 — the number one eDonkey server in the world which facilitated the illegal file swapping by approximately 1.3 million simultaneous users. The MPAA’s strategy focuses on all levels of Internet piracy to cut off the major suppliers of illegal files and at the same time curtail facilitation of illegal file swapping by peer-to-peer networks. Approximately 75 Torrent and eDonkey sites have been shut down in the last year as a result of these efforts.