This is How We Catch You Downloading

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All over Europe thousands of people are being threatened with court action for allegedly sharing games like Dream Pinball 3D on P2P networks. Now, documents obtained by TorrentFreak show details of the anti-piracy company's techniques for identifying alleged file-sharers on the internet and the gathering of claimed 'forensic quality' evidence for use in court cases.


In March we reported in some detail about the case of 500 UK file-sharers being legally pursued following claims that they uploaded games from the German publisher ‘Zuxxez’ onto file-sharing networks.

Since then, many people have been in touch with the law firm who sent the threatening letters, demanding evidence that they actually did something. TorrentFreak has obtained copies of the latest letters and within the claimed evidence is a description of how the anti-piracy system used by Logistep AG (the company hired to track the alleged pirates) is supposed to work.

The cleverly named “File Sharing Monitor” is the system being used by Logistep to gather evidence against file-sharers. It is actually just a modified version of the Shareaza P2P application that is configured to search for infringing files, and collect the information from the hosts that share these files.

The “File Sharing Monitor” only targets Gnutella and eDonkey users, so it is still unclear how they track down BitTorrent users. Here is how it works:

1. The client connects to the P2P network, searches for sources of the infringing file, and collects the IP addresses that were gathered through the search.
2. The client requests to download (a piece of) the file from the host that was found through the search.
3. The filename, file size, IP-address, P2P protocol, P2P application, time, and the username are automatically inserted into a database, if the host permits the download.
4. This is the “best” part. The application does a WHOIS search for the ISP information and automatically sends an infringement letter to the ISP if needed.

The claim is that the “File Sharing Monitor” is totally foolproof and that it can provide forensic-quality information to a court in order that file-sharers be punished. The question remains whether an IP-address is sufficient evidence to sue a person for downloading copyrighted material. Recent cases suggest that the RIAA and the MPAA will need more evidence than that.

Here is the ‘evidence’ for the functioning of the Logistep system. You decide.

-Link to PDF.

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