P2P ‘scam sites’ masquerade as genuine file-sharing sites but con inexperienced file-sharers into paying ‘subscriptions’ for free software, such as BitTorrent clients and bombard them with ads and popups. uTorrent has had enough of one such site making profit from their work and is stepping up to the mark to hold them accountable.
To the novice file sharer, the site Mp3downloadhq.com sounds like it has an attractive name. MP3′s? Check. Downloads? Check. HQ? Sounds like the nerve center – check.
But this site doesn’t bring a free file-sharing experience. It brings a nasty and costly experience.
Searching the web, it’s impossible to find a satisfied customer. Indeed, most posts seem to concern allegations of connections to fraudulent activity. They even managed to fool thousands of LimeWire users and people searching for the Kazaa software.
Up until now, the slippery Mp3downloadhq seems to have been untouchable. However, it appears part of their ‘service’ entails letting their customers download copies of uTorrent directly from their servers. This hasn’t gone unnoticed and uTorrent appears to have let the lawyers loose:
Re: ÂµTorrent Copyright infringement
We represent [Private], and his software ÂµTorrent. (collectively [Private]).
[Private] is the sole owner of all rights and copyrights to the computer software named ÂµTorrent available from http://www.utorrent.com and other websites. (“[Private] Property”)
It has recently come to our client’s attention that you appear to be hosting a web site (mp3downloadhq.com) that offers a software program that contains [Private] Property. This software program seems to be available to subscribers only, and it seems to be something you charge money for. The material and activities at the online location infringe [Private] copyrights in the [Private] Property because the [Private] Property was copied and posted to the online location and is being distributed from the online location, without [Private] consent. The web page you are hosting clearly infringes [Private] copyrights by distributing [Private] Property.
It goes on to explain that in uTorrent’s lawyer’s opinion, mp3downloadhq willfully infringed its rights, making them liable for statutory damages of up to $150,000.
Ashwin Navin, President and Co-Founder of BitTorrent, Inc told TorrentFreak: “Unfortunately the BitTorrent community has a number of bad actors in it, most notably companies that use our trademark to sell adware-infested versions of software that is already available for free.”
Going on to show the care being taken not to stifle innovation whilst tackling these outfits he explains: “This half-baked attempt to “commercialize” BitTorrent isn’t a sanctioned use of our trademark, so we’re trying to find the right balance of retaining intellectual property rights to shut those guys down while maintaining an active and flourishing developer community that can continue to use our IP for great products. For example, uTorrent, BitComet, Azureus, and the Asus BitTorrent router were products developed in the BitTorrent community in good faith and enabling of good user experiences. We want to support those open source applications as much as possible, so we created a really lightweight trademark licensing process that isn’t profitable for our company at all, but hopefully helps novice users determine who the good guys are.”
There are legitimate ways for developers to use BitTorrent technology explains Ashwin: “We also have BitTorrent DNA available for anyone that wants to build a commercial application using BitTorrent P2P technology to reduce the infrastructure costs associated with streaming video for example.”
There are hundreds, if not thousands of these types of sites on the internet and they are almost universally hated so this is one copyright infringement action that is likely to be popular with file-sharers. Go for it uTorrent – and when you’ve finished with these guys, maybe you can do something about this blatant profiteering too?