US Military BitTorrent Users Targeted By MPAA/RIAA

Being posted overseas in the military without the companionship of friends or family is hard enough, but being separated from entertainment makes things even harder. After letters written to the RIAA, MPAA and media outlets fell on deaf ears, an insider at a US base has revealed that a campaign is underway to download as much as possible.

Campaigns about copyright infringement, particularly those relating to online file-sharing mechanisms such as BitTorrent, are nothing new. They have, however, escalated in recent years and now regularly appear in the mainstream press, even penetrating our schools.

An insider at a US base in Japan has been in touch with TorrentFreak to tell us of a new initiative underway which is being operated by the Department of Defense. The campaign is running in overseas bases and is targeting members of the military currently using BitTorrent and other P2P software to obtain media.

While millions of regular US citizens also use file-sharing to acquire tv shows, movies and music, we’re told that military personnel overseas have a unique problem – their physical location excludes them from obtaining media from US-based services.

“For years many of us have spent time and money, hand over fist, looking for ways to work around IP blocks placed by companies operating from the states to access services such as NetFlix, Amazon, and others, to enjoy the same level of access as anyone living in the US does,” the insider told TorrentFreak.

“We have offered money to the companies in exchange for lifting the blocks and have offered up information as to how to allow military members into their content while strictly enforcing the contract,” he added.

However, the pleas to the various media companies appear to have fallen on deaf ears. Our contact believes that the content providers must have no interest in the business available from overseas military personnel, as they continue to block them from accessing content legitimately.

In a response to this inaction, we’re told that US military personnel have stepped up their campaign to download as much content as they can using BitTorrent.

“We have sent letters to the RIAA and the MPAA repeatedly letting them know that our downloads are a direct representation of their failure to allow us to be good consumers as others in the US can be,” our military insider explained.

Of course, the response from these groups has been predictable. On a daily basis, the MPAA and RIAA send copyright notices to military personnel via their base ISPs. In turn, the personnel are threatened with account suspension and in serious cases, disconnection.

“Sucks, but all of us have kept doing it [file-sharing] as we have made every reasonable attempt to gain access to the content legally as any person living on US sovereign ground can,” says our clearly frustrated contact.

While there is an apparent crackdown on online file-sharing, there is an interesting footnote to this story. TorrentFreak is informed that when personnel are deployed, they have access to sanctioned “Morale” hard drives which are allegedly filled with copyright materials acquired by “nefarious” means, and available for anyone to download and keep.

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