There are many cases where data collected by anti-piracy companies has been called into doubt. Apparently even laser printers are pirating media these days, such is the flimsy nature of the data gathering. Now, according to an interesting Heise report, it seems that it’s possible for these companies to log pure downloaders and provide this information to lawyers to process compensation demands, even when no uploading has taken place.
Despite operating a version of eMule modified to never upload (via a so-called ‘leecher mod’), a user of the eD2K network has received a claim for compensation of 700 euros. Anti-piracy tracking company Media Protector allegedly gathered the data in October 2007 and stated that the user had been caught uploading a movie and some adult material.
The accused has claimed that, because of the zero-upload modded client, it was impossible that anything was uploaded. The client itself had never been reset and displayed a operating time of 924 days and it had never distributed a file.
Of course, tracking companies such as Media Protector and Logistep are always super-confident of the accuracy of their systems, even though they are never confident enough to open them up to scrutiny. Lawyers are always quick to point out that the evidence is good enough for the courts to grant orders for the disclosure of user’s personal information, but it’s a one sided process and the defendant never gets the opportunity to contest before their identity is revealed.
In the interests of fairness and transparency, the sooner these companies have their systems opened up for scrutiny, the better. If the systems are proved accurate, then this strengthens the position of anti-piracy tracking companies and enhances their credibility, so one has to question why they are so reluctant to reveal their techniques. Maybe it’s because they are afraid that Cory Doctorow is on the right track?
Perhaps of more concern is why courts are so willing to accept this data as foolproof when seemingly no-one knows how it is collected. And when defendants are denied this information too, fairness seems a distant concept.