2006: MPAA vs. BitTorrent Sites

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We've seen several confrontations between the MPAA and some of the bigger BitTorrent sites this year. Here's a roundup of some the most memorable events.

MPAA sues popular BitTorrent search engines
This February the MPAA announced lawsuits (PDF) against Torrentspy, Torrentbox and Isohunt, three of the most popular BitTorrent search engines. Isohunt owner Gary later told TorrentFreak that they will not bow down to the MPAA. Isohunt hired a top-notch lawyer, specialized in Internet copyrights, and teamed up with Torrentbox.

mpaa versus BitTorrent sitesThe MPAA argued that the sole purpose of these torrent sites is to infringe on copyrights. But they are wrong according to Gary, who said, “We process copyright takedown requests daily, and have done so for hundreds of requests in the past, if not thousands. We work with all copyright owners, and even the RIAA email us routinely. The MPAA is the only organization unwilling to cooperate with us.”

Torrentspy was the first torrent site that took action against the MPAA. In March they filed a “motion to dismiss” the lawsuit (PDF). According to Torrentspy, the MPAA would be better off suing Google. “Everything alleged about defendants’ website (Torrentspy) is true about Google, and even more so, because Google outperforms the allegations in the complaint. Plaintiffs’ (MPAA) factually empty and broadbrush categorical accusations are like mud that covers all distinctions,” said Torrentspy’s lawyer.

Niteshdw is another torrent site that was sued by the MPAA last February. This smaller, forum based torrent site opted for a settlement with the MPAA because the site admin didn’t have the financial resources to fight back. The MPAA suggested a monetary settlement of at least $10,000, and confiscated all donations Niteshdw would receive, before they could be added to the settlement money. The admin of Niteshdw said that it was impossible for him to raise this amount of money. He added “The only way I could comply with such a settlement would be to stop eating, or maybe sell my daughter to the highest bidder.”

At this point the cases against Torrentspy, Torrentbox and Isohunt are still pending, and it is unsure whether the Niteshdw admin had to sell his daughter.

MPAA vs. The Pirate Bay
The MPAA was involved in the raid on The Pirate Bay this May. They even sent a letter (PDF) to Sweden’s State Secretary this March in which they kindly requested that The Pirate Bay be taken down. John Malcolm, Executive Vice President of the MPAA wrote, “It is certainly not in Sweden’s best interests to earn a reputation among other nations and trading partners as a place where utter lawlessness with respect to intellectual property rights is tolerated.”

It didn’t stop there. The MPAA even stalked Pirate Bay admin, Anakata. In a post on the Pirate Bay blog Anakata wrote, “Apparently, on several different occasions, MPAAs Swedish lawyers hired a private eye to stalk me! This must’ve been very entertaining for the poor Tex Murphy clone doing the actual groundwork, as my daily activities can basically be summed up as ‘eat, sleep, work’ (often on very odd hours).”

The Pirate Bay made it very clear though, that they weren’t very impressed by the MPAA’s scare tactics. Their “reverse DNS” sends out a clear message to the MPAA and their friends:

hey.mpaa.and.apb.bite.my.shiny.metal.ass.thepiratebay.org. (cf. Futurama)

MPAA infiltrates Torrentspy
Torrentspy later sued the MPAA because an alleged hacker, hired by the MPAA, retrieved private information from the BitTorrent indexer. The hacker admitted that he was working for the MPAA, and that his job was to steal confidential e-mail, and other company secrets. The man was paid $15,000 for his illegal actions.

The alleged hacker, who was later identified as Robert Anderson, in an interesting turn of events, switched sides and joined Torrentspy in their fight against the MPAA. To date, it is still unclear what motivated him to make this switch.

Torrentspy’s lawyer, Ira Rothken said in a response, “We believe that he broke the law in a serious manner … we’re encouraged that after making a big mistake he’s now mitigating his wrongdoing by providing information about things he did so we can take remedial action against the MPAA.”

What a year…

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