Mass BitTorrent Lawsuits Now Target Private Trackers

Mass lawsuits against alleged file-sharers, such as those from the US Copyright Group and lawyers ACS:Law and Gallant MacMillan in the UK, are generally accepted to have been generated from evidence gathered from big public BitTorrent sites. Now it appears that at least one other firm has jumped on the bandwagon, this time targeting a large private tracker.

Mass lawsuits against alleged file-sharers are spreading like a plague of locusts from Europe over to the United States. By now, their action is clear. Gather IP address evidence against as many alleged file-sharers as possible and take legal action in order to discover their names and addresses. Once those details are learned, pressure the recipient by post with threatening financial ruination unless an early settlement of a few hundred dollars up to a couple of thousand is forthcoming.

While lawyers in Germany and the UK (ACS:Law, Davenport Lyons and now Gallant MacMillan) have been doing most of the pioneering work for this business model, it is the US Copyright Group and its pursuit of Hurt Locker file-sharers that has grabbed most of the headlines.

What all these lawyers have in common, is that none of them reveal where their evidence has been gathered from and since no cases have ever gone to court – that’s none, zero, nada – then no one has ever forced them to. From our dealings with specific and verified UK cases and from the scale of the US operation, it is fairly clear that the IP addresses used have been collated from public trackers.

Now it appears that adult movie company Lucas Entertainment have bucked the trend.

“You only have to conduct a quick Google search to see the rampant piracy all over the internet,” says Lucas Entertainment President/CEO Michael Lucas. “I am always surprised that users would deal with torrent sites and all the hassle that requires instead of streaming through LucasEntertainment.com, but I guess there are many people out there who have endless patience. We appreciate our fans wherever they are but business is business and we have to make some money off our content.”

To this end, not only has the company announced the filing of a lawsuit in Texas Northern District Court on July 19 which targets 65 defendants, but they have also uniquely revealed that they tracked the ‘John Does’ on a private BitTorrent tracker.

Although fairly niche when compared to the wide appeal of say, The Pirate Bay, Gay-Torrents.net (GT) is still a very big tracker. In existence since 2001 with more than 235,000 members, its users have now become the latest target in these lucrative ‘pay or else’ schemes. Copyright owners and lawyers want money from file-sharers, no matter where they live or what material they choose to obtain. And Lucas Entertainment are no different, although they are yet to announce exactly how much money they want.

This case should be of unique and special interest to all private tracker users because it raises some very interesting questions. GT, like all private sites, is a members only venue. This means that either Mr Lucas in person (or potentially one of his agents) is an active member of GT and must have actively participated in swarms.

Of course, this is true of public trackers too, but private trackers keep records – lots of them – so discovering the account connected with that can prove a trivial process. If it’s discovered that the account in question has been uploading, the litigation waters could get muddied significantly. In regular cases against file-sharers only anti-piracy groups carry evidence. Evidence on private trackers cuts both ways.

TorrentFreak spoke with an admin at GT who told us that they “would be somewhat displeased with any Member who sought to make a profit or take legal advantage of his torrenting activities via GT.”

That said, we are told that other GT members are indeed connected with the movie industry.

“Some GT Members are heavily involved in the same industry as Mr Lucas and also participate in filesharing because it is recognised that such activities are to their mutual benefit as movie producer, consumer and, in full agreement with GT and with our collaboration, as free advertiser and distributor,” TorrentFreak was told.

“The latter agreement would include a term that we advertise their new title and ban new productions for a specific period of time following release in order to encourage sales. Rather strangely some producers such as Lucas Entertainment appear to prefer a more litigious route rather than one of mutual cooperation,” explained a GT admin.

Nevertheless, more formal agreements aside, GT appears to be a somewhat considerate tracker.

“As a general courtesy to ALL studios (including our producer-Membership and their future uploads), we already impose a blanket ban on ALL pre-release titles regardless of Membership with GT. Our aim is to work in cooperation with the industry, but if the recent stories of further litigation are well-founded it appears some poorly advised studios stubbornly choose to view our Membership as common thieves rather than with respect as potential customers, and as free advertisers and distributors,” the admin concludes.

GT told TorrentFreak that they lay the blame for these lawsuits firmly at the door of outdated copyright laws applied to 21st century life, business and technology.

“Quite simply, governments and businesses worldwide need to catch up but we fear ACTA (the impending Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) will apply 20th century principles and shall deter innovation and quash new business models otherwise fit for modern societies.”

In the meantime copyright holders are making the best of it. Show them the money.

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