It’s Impossible to Torrent Anonymously, Lawyer Says

Opinion

With dozens of cases under his belt Oregon lawyer Carl Crowell can be considered an expert when it comes to suing BitTorrent pirates. However, a recent claim that pirates can't be anonymous online conflicts with day-to-day reality.

crowellLawyer Carl Crowell has filed numerous lawsuits against online pirates in Oregon. He works on behalf of the makers of Dallas Buyers Club, among others, and has been active for years.

These cases never go to trial but are typically settled for a few thousand dollars. In a recent Interview with a local newspaper he justifies this approach.

“The media calls what I do a scam, a fraud,” Crowell says, while pointing at the losses his clients suffer from online piracy.

According to Crowell many of the defendants falsely assume that not responding to a lawsuit will make it go away, but he stresses that this is not the case.

“There are stories online that tell people the worst thing you can do is respond, but it’s not a problem that’s going to go away by being ignored,” he notes.

Indeed, there have been various examples of default judgments against pirates in these type of cases, with judges handing out damages as high as $30,000. This means that ignoring a lawsuit is certainly not wise.

While the lawyer has no sympathy for pirates, he doesn’t just sue people left and right. Crowell says he focuses on people who upload content persistently, seeding files for several months.

“If you just download and don’t upload, you don’t cross my radar. I’m interested in persistent involvement over several months,” he says.

The above sounds reasonable for someone from his side of the bench, but soon after the interview takes a surprise turn. According to Crowell, it is impossible for pirates to escape his crosshairs as online anonymity is a myth.

“There is no anonymity online. If you want to pirate content, you have to do so publicly,” Crowell says.

This statement conflicts with reality, as there are plenty of way for people to hide their IP-addresses. In fact, research shows that pirates tend to be very keen on their privacy.

For example, an academic survey revealed that 70 percent of The Pirate Bay users utilize a VPN service or proxy, or were interested in doing so in future.

Perhaps Crowell is misrepresenting reality on purpose as a scare tactic, or he simply doesn’t know better. Luckily for him, not all pirates are aware of it either, otherwise his business would be ruined.

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