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Questionable "Best Effort" Copyright Enforcement 123

Posted by kdawson
from the when-best-is-not-good-enough dept.
pmdubs writes "Princeton University Professor Michael Freedman, creator of CoralCDN, discusses how he received around 100 pre-settlement letters in one month from various copyright agencies after invalid BitTorrent tracker requests were issued through CoralCDN's proxies. Interestingly, the participating agencies made no effort whatsoever to verify that the Coral nodes were actually running BitTorrent, which they weren't! He questions just how much effort agencies take to reduce false positives when it comes to DMCA notices. Considering the credence that network operators give to such notices (they'll often cut your service upon receipt), it would seem that the answer is 'not enough.'"
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Questionable "Best Effort" Copyright Enforcement

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @07:14PM (#30371846)

    I ran a Tor exit node for a semester at Marquette University. I got DMCA takedown notices all the time, for copyrighted Britney Spears music that was apparently being downloaded through my exit node. Each time, they made me sign a letter admitting guilt to get my Internet turned back on. Fortunately, I was able to make a slightly modified letter that looked the same as the one they had sent me, but didn't actually admit anything, and they would still turn it back on.

    I was following all the rules with my exit node. It was completely permitted.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The frightening thing is that someone old enough to go to Marquette still wants Britney Spears "music".

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sexconker (1179573)

      Sounds like a good plan to me.
      I'll try this the next time I have to sign something.

      Simply edit it slightly to my advantage, film myself doing so (in case they then do the same, and in court, it'll be a question of which is the original), sign it, turn it in, and let them sign it / approve it.

      $16.7500 / month for rent? 2 year lease? Sweet!

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by TubeSteak (669689)

        Sounds like a good plan to me.
        I'll try this the next time I have to sign something.

        Simply edit it slightly to my advantage, film myself doing so (in case they then do the same, and in court, it'll be a question of which is the original), sign it, turn it in, and let them sign it / approve it.

        Changes to a contract (especially for property) have to be agreed upon by both parties so that there is a meeting of the minds [wikipedia.org].
        It's one of the foundations of our common law.

        Suffice it to say that your plan would never fly in front of a judge.
        At best, the judge would say there was never a contract and you need to GTFO.
        At worst, you could end up getting charged with fraud.

        • Party A prepares document.

          Party B alters document, signs document, gives document to Party A for review and signature.

          Party A reviews and signs document.

          The assumption that the document party A received is the same as the document that party A handed out is the fault of party A.

          The plan is unlikely to ever be viable because most companies will hand you a pre-signed or otherwise pre-approved document - copying their signature / barcode / whatever would be fraud.

          Neglecting to mention that you altered the cont

          • Neglecting to mention that you altered the contract would not be. If I agree to rent a place for X with a deposit of Y, and they hand me a lease that says I'm renting it for X with a deposit of Z, then it is up to ME to notice the change, and agree/disagree to it.

            Actually, that would probably fall under bad faith.

        • Except that this isn't necessarily signed by both parties. The letter isn't ever signed by the school. Even if this was the case, he couldn't be held to the first contract because he never agreed to it in any matter (verbal or otherwise).

          Now, the entire point of submitting a different letter is to void the "contract". You give them some bullshit, they give you internet access. I can't see how this is fraud. He returns a signed letter. He's not being deceptive with poor wording, or trying to obfuscate
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            I can't see how this is fraud. He returns a signed letter. He's not being deceptive with poor wording, or trying to obfuscate something. Everything is right there in plain English. If the university doesn't bother to read the letter he sent, that's their loss.

            If this is legal for a record company to do (sending a different contract than was agreed on), I don't see why it wouldn't be for a student.

        • At best, the judge would say there was never a contract and you need to GTFO.

          Good. The RIAA relies on the existence of a contract, not the GP.

        • by sjames (1099)

          Make it EULA style. By permitting me to move in you signify your agreement to the following:...

          </EvilThoughts>

      • by shermo (1284310)

        I do this every time I'm asked to sign that my baggage is fragile/unsuitably packed.

        I travel with somewhat fragile sporting equipment, so this happens most flights. I delete the 'unsuitably packed' section and any disclaimers of liability, initial it, and sign at the bottom. So I'm just signing that my item is fragile, which seems honest. But I'm not saying it's alright for the baggage handlers to ride it up the conveyor belt (I've seen this happen).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I should also probably mention that they wanted my roommate to sign the same admission of guilt, even though there was only one accusation. Without both signatures, they refused to restore the Internet access.

      As in the story in the article, there was no proof, just an accusation, which was not digitally signed. IT Services assumed guilt, and shut off my Internet connection immediately (and then sent me the letter I needed to sign, 2 days later).

      It only worked the first 2 times. Marquette has a strange sort

      • Do they have rules against running a server in general? That could have been a factor.

      • It only worked the first 2 times. Marquette has a strange sort of 3-strikes policy. After the third alleged infringement, they said that I couldn't get it turned back on at all, but they still demanded that I sign the admission to guilt. I contacted ITS daily to try to get them to fulfill their contractual obligation (under the dorm's housing agreement) and restore my Internet access, but after about a week of this, the tech support people at ITS started telling me that they were forbidden from speaking to me. Eventually cops came and hinted that if I contacted IT Services again, they would arrest me.

        If I was in that situation, I'd "hint" to ITS/the cops/whomever that I had a lawyer.

        This post is not legal advice of any kind.

    • by syousef (465911) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:45PM (#30373176) Journal

      I am not a lawyer, and you do not have deep pockets to fight it but....If you've given the entire story they may be violating the DMCA by refusing to reconnect you if you respond to the accusation by saying you were not doing it. Next, it could be defamation to tell other people you were doing something illegal if you were not. It could also be considered coercion to pressure someone to admit to a crime they did not commit. I'd be getting legal advice, preferably pro bono if you can find it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @07:16PM (#30371872)

    Sneaking some bitTorrent traffic onto someone's network is the new, legitimized DDOS?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Wesley Felter (138342)

      You don't even need BitTorrent; you just register their IP address with a tracker and they get legal threats.

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        register FCC, NSA, and FBI, and various senators (sponsors of the DMCA in particular) IP addresses and see how fast the DMCA is repealed. :)

        • by BlueStrat (756137) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:13PM (#30372948)

          register FCC, NSA, and FBI, and various senators (sponsors of the DMCA in particular) IP addresses and see how fast the DMCA is repealed. :)

          This is actually a very good idea IMHO. You might want to add a few Federal judges and maybe even a few Supreme Court judges. The LEO's and TLA's...maybe not such a good idea. They don't have a very developed sense of humor. Besides, I would think that they'd be more likely to try to keep it quiet, and public outrage by VIP's...preferably with some power to change things...was the point, no?

          Strat

          • by umghhh (965931)
            I suppose there are laws that make such actions illegal or even classified as an act of terror as by doing all these fake registrations you attack state institutions. I do not see how this is going to improve anything - unless they see the light of reason some day, which is doubtful, the only thing there is that can prevent legal action is, in light of all this nonsense, to cut your internet connection but that may be impossible at some point of time.

            A friend of my a lawyer specializing in representing cli

          • by adamchou (993073)
            Well sure, the MAFIAA might get the smack down from law makers eventually. But all they'll need to do is add something to their code that attempts to the suspected client and see if they really are running a torrent client and seeding files. That would quickly shut down whatever ruckus you would like to cause.
        • by mister_playboy (1474163) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:51PM (#30373220)

          register FCC, NSA, and FBI, and various senators (sponsors of the DMCA in particular) IP addresses and see how the law doesn't apply to them, only to citizens like you. :)

          FTFY. We all know the law is their weapon to wield as they wish, and it won't be turned against them.

      • by Monkier (607445) * on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @10:19PM (#30373426)
        Can you easily implicate people by registering their IP address with a tracker? From the article:

        ...requests to BitTorrent trackers can also use CoralCDN, as these are simply HTTP GETs with a client's relevant information encoded in the tracker URL's query string, e.g., http://denis.stalker.h3q.com.6969.nyud.net/announce?info_hash=(hash)&peer_id=(name)&port=52864&uploaded=231374848&downloaded=2227372596&left=0&corrupt=0&key=E0591124&numwant=200&compact=1&no_peer_id=1 [nyud.net]. Notice that the HTTP request includes a peer's unique name (a long random string) and a port number, but notably does not include an IP address for that client. It's an optional parameter in the specification that many BitTorrent clients don't include. (In fact, even if the request includes this IP parameter, some trackers ignore it.) Instead, the tracker records the network-level IP address from where the HTTP request originated (the other end of the TCP connection), together with the supplied port, as the peer's network address.

        In this case CoralCDN was effectively acting as a proxy - the IP address wasn't being falsified. Although these guys did appear to have some luck with falsified IP addresses: Why My Printer Received a DMCA Takedown Notice [washington.edu].

        • In this case CoralCDN was effectively acting as a proxy - the IP address wasn't being falsified. Although these guys did appear to have some luck with falsified IP addresses: Why My Printer Received a DMCA Takedown Notice [washington.edu]

          Well, he was wrong about one thing...

          ...he surmised that these "content providers" (the RIAA/MPAA) would actually change and upgrade their "investigation" methods.

          That's proven to be untrue... ah well. All the more cannon fodder against them.

    • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @07:52PM (#30372230)

      From what I understand, the notices are not being sent because of traffic, but because of IP logs (which are not the same). Specifically, they look at the IP logs on the torrent tracker to identify which machines have the content. Any machine is able to register itself with the tracker and say it has any content, regardless of whether it does or not, and regardless of whether it's even running BitTorrent. That's how the guy got his printer DMCA'd - he manually registered his printer's IP address with one or more trackers.

      Considering the fact that it's possible to do that, I am completely confused as to how it is possible that every single IP address that the RIAA, MPAA, Congress, or Senate uses has not been registered with as many trackers as possible. Sure, it would degrade BitTorrent performance on those trackers, but it would be worth it to have the RIAA flood the house or senate with takedown notices when no illegal activity has taken place. Then we might start to see that "under the penalty of perjury" clause get enforced.

      If they aren't actually connecting to those machines and verifying that 1) they are receiving traffic and 2) they are distributing content, then they haven't exactly made a good-faith effort.

      • by NoYob (1630681)
        I was thinking more along the lines of registering the MPAA and RIAA and trying to figure out how one would frame the MPAA with downloading music, frame the RIAA with downloading movies, and framing all the politicians who have passed laws allowing those organizations to use their legal tactics with child porn.
      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        Can you really register someone else's IP address? Why not modify the trackers to only allow registration of the IP address that is the source of the request? (Or am I misunderstanding how the nodes communicate with the tracker? If it's UDP I suppose you could forge the headers; why not require a confirmation message with a unique hash code be sent to and echoed back by each registered node?)
        • Yeah, I'm not sure about the technical details of the BitTorrent spec, but I do know that one fellow was able to register his printer's IP as a proof-of-concept. It could be that he assigned the IP to a computer temporarily, but I think that would defeat the purpose. He ended up receiving 9 takedown notices on his printer though.

          • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            This is directed at both the parent and the GP: Did you guys even RTFA? Of course not, this is Slashdot.

            As TFA says, most trackers DO ignore the IP, and do actually use the one that is the source of the request. So, when you make the request through a proxy, the tracker records the proxy's IP. The proxy isn't running BitTorrent. The proxy gets a wrongful take-down notice, because nobody ever checked to see if the IP in question was actually running BitTorrent and serving illegal content.

            I know you're specif

            • by Locke2005 (849178)
              I tried to read the fine article, and got the following: Your organization's Internet use policy restricts access to this web page at this time. Reason: The Websense category "Proxy Avoidance" is filtered. URL: http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com.nyud.net/blog/mfreed [nyud.net]

              How hard would it be to check you facts before insulting people, running off your mouth, and sounding like a retard?
              • If you remove the .nyud.net suffix on the hostname, you will no longer be using a proxy, and your work's Websense configuration might allow you to read the article.

            • how hard would it be to just check the article to see if what you're asking was covered, before running your mouth off and sounding like a retard?

              Oddly enough, almost all of the information I got (aside from the printer story [washington.edu]) came from what I understood from the article.

              Sigh.. I'll try again tomorrow I suppose.

      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I like the way you think! Maybe we should wait for the 3 strikes laws so we can take the government and every major corporation of the net for good.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by lul_wat (1623489)
        Might I suggest the IRS as the first govt IP addresses to get added
      • by dbIII (701233) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:44PM (#30372728)
        I recall that one of the things built into the DMCA to get it to pass is some fairly harsh penalties for sending out false notices. There have been many documented false notices now, but has anyone actually been hit with a penalty for issuing a false law?
        It's not a just law. It's an extortion racket. Those using it are not sticking to it themselves when the use it as a blunt instrument. It will get worse until companies get fined and people get fired for these instances of "demanding money with menaces" which would put private citizens in jail.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by grahamm (8844)

          If it is an extortion racket, should the perpetrators not be charged under RICO?

        • by AndersOSU (873247)

          You know that's what I was wondering too.

          The guy who wrote the article seems to have about as clear a case as one could imagine that the copyright owners are perjuring themselves - AND and interest in the rule of law AND (maybe) a university to foot his legal bills. Can an individual pursue perjury charges, or do they have to be brought by the state?

      • Considering the fact that it's possible to do that, I am completely confused as to how it is possible that every single IP address that the RIAA, MPAA, Congress, or Senate uses has not been registered with as many trackers as possible. Sure, it would degrade BitTorrent performance on those trackers, but it would be worth it to have the RIAA flood the house or senate with takedown notices when no illegal activity has taken place.

        And how would congress react to that? Outlaw the use of software that isn't in

      • by Xest (935314)

        People keep bringing up the idea of using Senator's IP addresses and so forth to get them caught, but the reason this doesn't happen is simple, even if you did, big media would let a Senator get away with it for exactly the reason they want to keep abusing these laws.

        When they ask the ISP for the IP address and are given "Senator Joe Bloggs, 1 Senator Street, Senatorville" they will just discard it and allow the Senator's kids to keep infringing.

        The laws doesn't treat everyone equally unfortunately, and in

      • People are doing this. Log in to your favorite tracker and find peers that "have the content" but will send it to you.

        As for the filtering, yes there is an obvious "dont send hatemail to D.C." rule which is manually instituted.

    • I predict some politicians with huge loads of torrented child porn (with sound tracks out of commercial music) on their PCs. ^^

      The best way to get to their computers, is to become the technician, and make it a time capsule which goes off some random time when you’ve left and are forgotten. Don’t try any office computer shit. Their *private* computers are where you should do it. The security there is basically zero.
      Get yourself and a friend invited there. The friend distracts them, you stick in t

  • by Kenja (541830) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @07:18PM (#30371896)
    It would be kinda nice if they where required to get the sign off of a judge before submitting a pre-settlement offer. But thats just not how civil cases work. More's the pity, but often the defendant in a civil case needs to go to court and ask for a dismissal if the person leveling the suite has no actual grounds. Just doing so can cost a fair amount, so it boils down to "pay us or we'll sue you can it'll cost more".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Meshach (578918)

      It would be kinda nice if they where required to get the sign off of a judge before submitting a pre-settlement offer. But thats just not how civil cases work. More's the pity, but often the defendant in a civil case needs to go to court and ask for a dismissal if the person leveling the suite has no actual grounds. Just doing so can cost a fair amount, so it boils down to "pay us or we'll sue you can it'll cost more".

      That is one of my pet peeves about these frivolous lawsuits. The amount of time/money it can cost to go against an empire with limitless resources seems very prohibitive. Who can afford it? Basically you are damned if you go after them and damned if you don'y (financially).

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'm just curious... since these aren't actually bottomless pits of money, and perhaps there are thousands of people who can and would sue. Would it make sense just to sue these groups en-mass? What if a million people separately sued them for being a nuisance? If it costs them a thousand or more per suit just to look at it, would it bring them down to size?

      • by umghhh (965931)
        Well it is not that drastic that is why we do not hear more of this and that is why legal systems in number of western countries did not collapse yet. It is simple - ask for 100kE/$ of damages and offer 1kE as an option i.e. court not involved if you pay 'reasonable' fine. You would be surprised to know how many people would refrain from legal action in such cases. Especially if letters in question refer to alleged consumption of (illegally acquired) pr0n.... Interestingly for some legal reason I did not re
        • by cboslin (1532787)

          ...Interestingly for some legal reason I did not really comprehend they can press such charges against you in any court in the country (that is how it works in Germany anyway) which has two benefits: it adds to your legal costs and ensures a judge that is likely to see things their way. But cavalry seems to be on its way at least in Germany they are discussing now to let us all pay a license fee for using a computer like device just to compensate for alleged theft so we are all 'saved'. To me it seems that not only the lawmakers in western world but the the whole lot of legal system is supporting a bunch of parasites.

          Cavalry is the wrong imagery, the four horseman of the apocalypse [wikipedia.org] would be a more correct image if this BS gets passed anywhere in the world.

          This would be awful. I have internet, therefore I might be forced to pay a fee for pirated Microsoft applications, even though I never use Microsoft applications anymore! Yes I saw the light over two years ago and have been Microsoft free at home since that time. I still am forced to use Microsoft for business contracts, unfortunately, looking to change that one

  • by seeker_1us (1203072) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @07:46PM (#30372172)

    Bittorrent allows independent artists/authors/programmers to distribute their works at little to no cost. This is their competition. The more people find independent works (for example, creative commons music, independent video clips, Linux distributions, etc), the more business they lose.

    False threats may lead to people thinking "well I better not run Bittorrent at all, to protect myself/my organization."

    Not to mention that this lets sleazy lawyers "fish" for people willing to pay them off rather than prove they did nothing wrong.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      "Not to mention that this lets sleazy lawyers "fish" for people willing to pay them off rather than prove they did nothing wrong."

      Ladies and gentlem, seeker_1us has just accidently illustraded exacly what's wrong.

      It SHOULD be:

      "Not to mention that this lets sleazy lawyers "fish" for people willing to pay them off rather than defend their innocence."

      People ahve someone how got the twisted notion the innocence should be proven. This is wrong. it's to be defended.

      • I agree, but I don't think GP had that mindset when he posted.

      • by ultranova (717540)

        People ahve someone how got the twisted notion the innocence should be proven. This is wrong. it's to be defended.

        In a criminal court, that's true; but copyright infringement is a civil matter, which means that yes, you have to prove your innocence.

        Civil court was originally meant to solve things like contract disputes and other such matters. Nowadays it's being used as a de facto criminal court without the presumption of innocence, to help the powerful extort and crush the weak. That's the twisted part.

        It

        • , is being used as the very fist of the hundred-pound gorillas.

          Um, buddy, you'll have to up the weight of your gorillas :).
          Hundred pound gorillas are not that impressive

      • by ivogan (678639)

        "Not to mention that this lets sleazy lawyers "fish" for people willing to pay them off rather than prove they did nothing wrong."

        Ladies and gentlem, seeker_1us has just accidently illustraded exacly what's wrong.

        It SHOULD be:

        "Not to mention that this lets sleazy lawyers "fish" for people willing to pay them off rather than defend their innocence."

        People ahve someone how got the twisted notion the innocence should be proven. This is wrong. it's to be defended.

        Let's take that one step further and say guilt should be proven, not fished for.

  • It costs more money to actually do any double-checking than it does to send a DMCA notice to anyone who might possibly perhaps maybe be violating a copyright.
  • Which is cheaper? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mikep554 (787194) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:12PM (#30372434)

    They are effectively shifting the work of verification to the recipient of the letter. If you are guilty, they found their mark. If you haven't done what they accuse you of, and you will probably be indignant enough to go through some effort to correct their "error". Sending out the letters without verification requires almost no work from them, has no risk, and sometimes gets them money. Verification would only add more work with no payback in reduction of risk or increase in monetary return.

    I am surprised more people don't see this as a shakedown racket. Also, since the RIAA gets money in return for the cost of a trained monkey running mailmerge in Microsoft Word, I don't see why they haven't purchased an electronic copy of the phone book so they can simply send out letters to everyone in the country.

    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      It says a lot that sending back a letter saying "I didn't do it and if you disagree we can discuss this in court" is often enough for them to close the case regardless of guilt...
  • I aworkld where (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:33PM (#30372644) Homepage Journal

    guilt is assumed, it's up to to to prove your innocence.

    That is why the DMCA and current copyright enforcement laws are a complete slap in the face to our most important rights.

  • Can't recipients of false DMCA claims charge the sender to be fined, or to collect a fee from them?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TaoPhoenix (980487)

      Isn't this Libel?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libel [wikipedia.org] ...libel (for written or otherwise published words)--is the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government or nation a negative image. It is usually, ... a requirement that this claim be false... ...and that the publication is communicated to someone other than the person defamed (the claimant).

      -----

      Not sure which interesecting law hits first if t

      • by ShinmaWa (449201)

        Slander and libel both require "publication". That is the one defamer must communicate to persons who likely know the defamed and the communication is likely harm the reputation of the defamed.

        - If it is not published to third parties, it is not defamation.
        - If it is published only to third parties who have no clue to the defamed is, it is not defamation. (i.e. you can't defame the anonymous.)
        - If it can not harm the reputation of the defamed, it is not defamation (i.e. You can't easily defame Charles Man

        • Re:False DMCA fee? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by dlgeek (1065796) on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @01:23AM (#30374330)
          1.) The notice is published to a third party: The ISP or content provider
          2.) The third party knows the defamed: the defamed is a user/account holder with whom the third party has an existing business relationship
          3.) The notice can harm the third parties reputation: the notice is falsely informing the third party that someone with whom they have a business relationship is engaging in illegal activity while using a service provided by that third party, most likely in violation of the contract (through the inclusion of an acceptable use policy or terms of service) between the third party and that user.

          To me, it sounds like this meets the standard your bring.
        • by Jerslan (1088525)

          - If it can not harm the reputation of the defamed, it is not defamation (i.e. You can't easily defame Charles Manson, for example.)

          If one were to say "Charles Manson loves to pet and play with fluffy bunnies" he might find that harmful to his reputation as an evil SOB, and would therefore have a case for defamation.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by pipedwho (1174327)

        Actually, it's more along the lines of fraud; akin to mailing out an invoice to a company for a service (or item) that was never provided.

        What the RIAA is doing is similar to a fraudster sending out invoices to everyone in the local business directory knowing that only a small number of those businesses were ever provided with his/her service.

        • by grahamm (8844)

          Or more like demanding money with menaces.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          Actually, it is extortion. There is no service being offered, just a statement that says "Do as we say, or we will make your life unpleasant".
  • by bcrowell (177657) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @08:55PM (#30372802) Homepage

    He questions just how much effort agencies take to reduce false positives when it comes to DMCA notices.

    I think the answer is absolutely no effort at all. Here [boingboing.net] is a notorious example where a busybody associated with a professional writes' association sent out a slew of automated DMCA notices, including some totally erroneous ones that caused authors' work to be taken down after they had intentionally put it up. Actually, they appeared to the service providers to be DMCA notices, but the guy who sent them out now claims that they weren't; this is because a real DMCA notice is supposed to be sent under penalty of perjury.

    I experienced one of these myself recently. I've written some books that are under CC licenses, and various people have (totally legally) posted copies of them on Scribd. I got an email from Scribd saying that they got a DMCA takedown notice from a publisher for one of my books. Turns out that some contracted in SF hired by the publisher issued the notice without checking carefully. Apparently the title was similar to one of their books. They didn't bother checking the name of the author. So they're going after me for violating the copyright on my own book. Great. I called the contractor in SF, and they said, "Oops, never mind." So theoretically they've exposed themselves to prosecution for perjury. If I called the DA in San Francisco or in my own jurisdiction and asked them to prosecute, what do you think the chances are that they'd do it? Zero, I'd guess.

    I wonder if anything the EFF can do about this in the courts. It really sucks.

    • by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:50PM (#30373212)
      Send your DA a letter a day. Not an email, a physical letter. And yes, contact the EFF. This is EXACTLY the kind of thing that needs to see its way into the courts. Especially because this was your own book, there's no grey area where someone might have actually violated copyright, this is a clear cut case where you did absolutely no wrong whatsoever.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Krishnoid (984597) *

      So theoretically they've exposed themselves to prosecution for perjury. If I called the DA in San Francisco or in my own jurisdiction and asked them to prosecute, what do you think the chances are that they'd do it? Zero, I'd guess.

      IANAL, but I remember reading [sfgate.com] that it's particularly rare to prosecute for perjury in general.

    • by sjames (1099)

      Send a letter. Send copies to your congressman, the EFF, and any interested press.

  • by Malenx (1453851)

    http://torrentfreak.com/automated-legal-threats-turn-piracy-into-profit-090628/ [torrentfreak.com]

    The company that sent those notices is very gray at best, quite illegal at worst.

  • by syousef (465911) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @09:42PM (#30373152) Journal

    It seems to me it ought to be defamation to accuse someone of a crime without making an effort to check that it's true, and run around telling his access provider.

    • by TeethWhitener (1625259) on Tuesday December 08, 2009 @11:09PM (#30373706)

      The way it sounded to me from TFA, this is fraud. Here's the legal definition (not TFA):

      To establish a claim of fraud, plaintiffs must show by clear and convincing evidence (1) a representation; (2) its falsity; (3) its materiality; (4) knowledge of its falsity or a reckless disregard for its truth or falsity; (5) intent that the plaintiff act upon the representation; (6) the hearer’s ignorance of its falsity; (7) the hearer’s reliance on its truth; (8) the hearer’s right to rely thereon; and (9) the hearer’s consequent and proximate injury. King v. Oxford, 282 S.C. 307, 311, 318 S.E.2d 125, 127 (Ct. App. 1984).

      Could be an interesting case to argue in court.

  • As the article points out, these practices are identical to the lax enforcement practices described last year on slashdot [slashdot.org] and elsewhere.

    The use of indirect evidence as "proof" of downloads is known, the interesting bit here is that in spite of pushback from ISPs and users, industry practices have not changed.

    Perhaps this (and the widespread lack of privacy in cloud-based services generally) will drive more users to privacy-preserving data sharing options, such as OneSwarm [washington.edu].
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ultranova (717540)

      Perhaps this (and the widespread lack of privacy in cloud-based services generally) will drive more users to privacy-preserving data sharing options, such as OneSwarm.

      Or Freenet [freenetproject.org].

  • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted.slashdot@org> on Wednesday December 09, 2009 @02:05AM (#30374512)

    He questions just how much effort agencies take to reduce false positives when it comes to DMCA notices.

    Hasn’t he got the memo? Doesn’t he get anything at all?
    I didn’t think that there still are people out there, who are so incredibly naive, to believe, that the point of those DMCA notices is, to stop you from copying the music!
    No. Everybody realized for a looong time, that the whole point is solely, to make money!
    I mean, if you realized it, it’s so obvious! The whole point of a business is to make money. Since when does it matter, how and by which means? At the end of the day, the most successful strategy of making money, is what will be done. That’s natural selection... kinda.

    How can he call himself an expert, and not know that?? Seriously! It boggles the mind!

    I’ve seen it twice: Even if you started to pay money, but stop right in the middle... you’ll never hear something from them again. It already was profitable. Now the effort would be bigger than the profit. So they won’t take any further actions.

    From practical experience, I know that the best experience is, to simply tell them to get lost, that you are an expert in the area, *know* that they got shit, and will kick their ass to hell and back if they ever contact you again.
    Sometimes, they will not stop at a letter from a lawyer, but try some pseudo-scary shit. Like a letter from court and such. Just send a letter back that you completely disagree with all claims. Because then they have to come up with some proof. Which they can’t. 99% of the time, that’s it. In rare cases, they come up with fake “proof”. Only in these cases, hope that your judge is not a total backwards retard.

    But I don’t have to tell you that it’s better to live in a country with competent courts, do I? ^^

  • does downloading/uploading files chunks (not having the whole file) hold as copyright infringement ??? or in other words the copyright is on the a file as a whole (??)
    Participating in a torrent swarm that prohibits getting 100% of any file from one unique source, if one reasons in 1:1 nodes relations. that gives exchanging random bits of data not belonging to any one that IF assembled correctly may give you a file u can use. would the exchange of those random bits/bytes constitute a copyright infringeme
    • that said, it doesn't apply in a US "context" ( since downloading == infringement ??), but in canada downloading stuff is not illegal. uploading is.

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