Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Courts

Is Being In the Same BitTorrent "Swarm" Equal To "Interacting"? 166

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the my-closest-friends-are-ip-addresses dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "In the new wave of bittorrent downloading cases, the plaintiffs' lawyers like to lump a number of 'John Does' together in the same case in order to avoid filing fees ($350 a pop). Their excuse for 'joinder' is the allegation that the defendants 'interacted' with each other by reason of the fact that their torrents may have emanated from the same 'swarm.' In Malibu Media v. Does 1-5, when John Doe #4 indicated his intention to move for severance, the Court asked the lawyers to address the 'swarm' issue in their papers. So when John Doe #4 filed his or her motion to quash, sever, and dismiss, he filed a detailed memorandum of law (PDF) analyzing the 'swarm' theory in detail. What do you think?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Is Being In the Same BitTorrent "Swarm" Equal To "Interacting"?

Comments Filter:
  • by Narrowband (2602733) on Friday June 29, 2012 @07:03PM (#40500841)
    Did you interact with someone if your telephone call to party A was carried on the same transatlantic phone cable as someone else's call to party B?
    • by masternerdguy (2468142) on Friday June 29, 2012 @07:07PM (#40500865)
      But this involves the internet which makes it different.
      • Sort of, but in this day and age, don't many carriers use packet-switched comms rather than circuit based for long distance telephony anyway?
        • Yes, as a matter of fact, we here at GlobalEverythingCo have determined that your Father's Day phone call was in the same swarm as people who pirated a Justin Beiber video.

          You are hereby notified that you have been served.

      • by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday June 29, 2012 @07:14PM (#40500899) Journal

        Or to use a mixed car-superhero analogy, if you're parked in a parking lot when the Incredible Hulk goes on a car-smashing spree, can you be held liable for the other cars being smashed?

      • by cpu6502 (1960974)

        Well if you're in a Torrent swarm, doesn't that mean you're uploading (no way to turn it off), and isn't that legally defined as copyright infringement? (shrug). It appears to argue that Doe 1 did not upload to Does 2,3,4,5 and therefore did not collude with them.

        I still think the best thing to do when you receive a "Pay $5000 or get sued" letter is throw it in the trash. They send-out thousands of those things and the odds they will actually drag you to court are small. It's just a scare tactic and way

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 29, 2012 @07:14PM (#40500901)

      That's not the same thing as a swarm though. You make it sound like people were prosecuted because their neighbours used BT, that's on the same cable too.

      A swarm is more like a conference call. You share the same line, but you also pass data between each other. As much as I hate the *AA litigation - I think the interaction thing holds up. How the hell else are you going to download from / upload to a swarm if not by interacting with it?

      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        I think this is probably it. If you are in a conference call you interacted with it. If you disagreed with whatever was decided at the conference call, and then never participated again you could make the argument that 'he offered me drugs, I said no' sort of interaction applies, but if you stuck around you're probably screwed.

        • by jd (1658)

          Let's say you were in a conference call on VoIP, with your microphone and speaker turned off. You are still in the conference but you receive nothing and transmit nothing.

          Or if you send the "join" command to join a multicast group, but never send or receive packets. All you do is join and remain active as a node (thus never pruned).

          In the case of BitTorrent, it's a bit harder to argue, but there are still cases. An academic researcher who desires not what is being shared but a knowledge of how many people s

          • Let's say you were in a conference call on VoIP, with your microphone and speaker turned off. You are still in the conference but you receive nothing and transmit nothing.

            Or if you send the "join" command to join a multicast group, but never send or receive packets. All you do is join and remain active as a node (thus never pruned).

            In the case of BitTorrent, it's a bit harder to argue, but there are still cases.

            Going back to the drugs analogy:
            If there is guy is standing on a street corner announcing he has drugs for sale and waving plastic baggies of product, would "nobody bought from me" be a valid defense to drug dealing charges?

      • The memo points out that the plaintiff here did not even allege that the accused Does passed data between each other. They may have downloaded the porn at different times.

        The memo also calls foul on a hashtag argument. I haven't seen the opposing memo, though, to know if it was any good.

      • by dark12222000 (1076451) on Friday June 29, 2012 @07:42PM (#40501053)
        The law here is a bit more complex. It's not just a matter of "interacting", it's a matter of having committed the same crime, at the same time, at the same place.

        So, a nice example would be a bank robbery. Lets say you and me robbed a bank together. Clearly, we would be litigated against together, since we clearly interacted.

        However, lets say I robbed a bank, and then 20 minutes later, without knowing about my robbery, you rob the same bank in the same way. In this instance, we have not interacted.

        How this applies to Swarms is where it gets tricky. If I join a swarm several hours after you've gotten the file, seeded, and left, are we interacting?
        • by physicsphairy (720718) on Friday June 29, 2012 @09:11PM (#40501421) Homepage

          I think it's worth backing up a step and asking why we have these rules in the first place. The robbers in your first example committed the same crime under the same circumstances, they've acted as mutual facillitators, and evidence against one of them is pretty much going to amount to evidence against the other. So it makes sense to have a rule that that level of interaction can result in a joint case.

          For the bittorrenting, however, where the crime actually occurs is at the other end of a computer terminal, and those terminals are in very different places. You are probably not going to send a detective to the computer used by one defendant and find any evidence against the other defendant. The defendants don't know each other, and they haven't communicated with each other. You will have to present different cases to prove the identity of the person at the other end of the IP address--one might have a router and claim his friend was using his connection, another might have been at a coffee shop. Information about one of the crimes is just going to be utterly irrelevant to the other in any way other than being the same charge. If the law does allow lumping them together, that would seem like a bad feature.

          • by Kjella (173770)

            You are probably not going to send a detective to the computer used by one defendant and find any evidence against the other defendant. The defendants don't know each other, and they haven't communicated with each other.

            If clients kept logs you could probably find substantial evidence on other peers they've downloaded from/uploaded to. Their BitTorrent clients have communicated, or if not directly then the swarm has. Persons A and B may very well be convicted of a conspiracy even if they've never talked to each other but to a mastermind C. Since you need uploaders to have downloaders you can't say you've committed any copyright violation alone. I would focus on the lack of coordination, imagine a secure door. The first see

          • I think it's worth backing up a step and asking where the hell any crime is here?

            If any at all is involved, it is on the accusing side! As I am now writing to US readers, I will allow myself be a little parodist: DISCLAIMER: By no way I say there is ANY crime in action by what I write next, nor that I NAME the US crimes properly...

            If I could thing about some crimes, I would see these options:
            1) Misuse of trade benefits and monopoly. Reason: the prices of products guarded by state monopoly (copyright acts) a
          • by Tom (822) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @04:15AM (#40503105) Homepage Journal

            A bank robbery seems the wrong metaphor here.

            How about a demonstration gone violent? Both parties were at the demonstration, but it is unclear if they ever talked to each other. You can't even prove if they've seen each other. But it was the same event and they did the same things. And they might have (unknowingly) supported each other, e.g. one threw a stone which drove police back which the user used to do something else.

            IANAL, but this is the real-world example that comes closest IMHO. If you'd join in these circumstances, you should join BT users. If you wouldn't, then you shouldn't.

        • by rrohbeck (944847)

          It's like saying if you say a number, say 42, and I say the same number, 42, a couple hours later, we must have interacted somehow. How else could we come up with the same number?
          While in fact all there is that we have some bit of common knowledge, like having read Douglas Adams. Or having received a hash.

          • by Belial6 (794905) on Saturday June 30, 2012 @12:31AM (#40502381)
            It's more like you sang "Happy Birthday" to your kid at his party in a Chuck-E-Cheese. One of his guests learns the song during that illegal public performance, and teaches it to his brother who then proceeds to perform an illegal public performance of the same song at his friends Chuck-E-Cheese birthday party.
      • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Friday June 29, 2012 @07:52PM (#40501085) Homepage

        But YOU are not interacting with other people, your computer or bit-torrent program is interacting with other computers/bit-torrent programs.

        • by thoughtlover (83833) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:47PM (#40501349)

          But YOU are not interacting with other people, your computer or bit-torrent program is interacting with other computers/bit-torrent programs.

          I think this is a little closer to the truth. You can't control who you connect with... Bittorent chooses who you connect with.

          My main concern with the 'swarm' argument is this: If I configure my client to only send and receive encrypted data, there stands a chance I may not get one byte of data unless some of the people in the swarm have their client configured similarly.

          Therefore, I think the real question is, "If someone connects to a swarm and only gets an incomplete file (or not even a byte of it), are they liable in any way?

          • Therefore, I think the real question is, "If someone connects to a swarm and only gets an incomplete file (or not even a byte of it), are they liable in any way?

            Well, in that case you would still be trying to participate in illegal file sharing. Kind of throwing a rock in a window of a jewelery store to get some loot, but the rock not even breaking the glass.

            • by tftp (111690)

              Well, in that case you would still be trying to participate in illegal file sharing. Kind of throwing a rock in a window of a jewelery store to get some loot, but the rock not even breaking the glass.

              No, that would amount to requesting the data and not getting any.

              A better analogy is that during a riot you are standing near the window of a store, in perfect position for a throw, with a rock in your hand. And you don't throw it.

              • You'd get shot with a rubber bullet or tazed.

                Not that I'm defending that, mind you. It's just that I recognize what the authorities do and what frightened authoritarians cheering them on like to see.

        • by msauve (701917) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:51PM (#40501355)
          As if the computer did this on it's own. Might as well argue that you didn't hire that hit man, he just acted based on hearing the mechanical vibrations caused by electrons going over the phone line.
          • You "hired the hitman", but you did not interact with everyone the hitman interacted with when under your employ (you did not even know they existed or give any more specific orders then to kill some guy).

            That is like saying you interacted with the pizza delivery boy who delivered the pizza to your hitman, the night before your hit.

          • As if the computer did this on it's own. Might as well argue that you didn't hire that hit man, he just acted based on hearing the mechanical vibrations caused by electrons going over the phone line.

            Actually, I think the hit man analogy is the best one so far.

            This swarm thing is like you hired a hitman, and someone else hired a hitman, and both of your hitmen decided to team-up without running it by either of you.

      • by dshadowwolf (1132457) <dshadowwolf@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday June 29, 2012 @07:56PM (#40501099)

        Nope. A swarm is nothing like a conference call, because you aren't interacting with every member of the swarm, but just a few members at a time - restricted by how many connections your bandwidth can actually handle at a given time. Regardless, the reported "offenses" are so separate in *TIME* that there is no guarantee that the Doe's in this case were actually online and part of the swarm at the same time as each other. Even if they were the chance that they actually shared parts of the movie between each other is so low as to be nil.

        You really should read the documents linked to - they might be in legalese, but it is close enough to english for just about anyone to follow. And it does explain things simply enough for anyone to be able to understand them. Yes, there is an explanation for how a BitTorrent swarm works in the actual motion and it was written in such a way as to be understandable by any of the legal professionals - including the judge in the case.

        And regardless of whether or not "participating in the same swarm" is a legal theory that holds water and fulfills the requirements of the rules, well... There is the fact that these "joinders" benefit only the plaintiffs in the case and create hardships for the joined defendents that break the required "fairness" of the legal system. (Yes, the legal system is supposed to be fair - surprising, no ?) So the joinder should be undone anyway :)

        Again, read the actual motion. These arguments are covered in depth and explained in excruciating detail inside it. To tell the truth, I will be surprised if this motion doesn't go through. Doe #4 has a *LOT* of legal precedent on his side :)

        • Nope. A swarm is nothing like a conference call, because you aren't interacting with every member of the swarm, but just a few members at a time - restricted by how many connections your bandwidth can actually handle at a given time. Regardless, the reported "offenses" are so separate in *TIME* that there is no guarantee that the Doe's in this case were actually online and part of the swarm at the same time as each other. Even if they were the chance that they actually shared parts of the movie between each other is so low as to be nil. You really should read the documents linked to - they might be in legalese, but it is close enough to english for just about anyone to follow. And it does explain things simply enough for anyone to be able to understand them. Yes, there is an explanation for how a BitTorrent swarm works in the actual motion and it was written in such a way as to be understandable by any of the legal professionals - including the judge in the case. And regardless of whether or not "participating in the same swarm" is a legal theory that holds water and fulfills the requirements of the rules, well... There is the fact that these "joinders" benefit only the plaintiffs in the case and create hardships for the joined defendents that break the required "fairness" of the legal system. (Yes, the legal system is supposed to be fair - surprising, no ?) So the joinder should be undone anyway :) Again, read the actual motion. These arguments are covered in depth and explained in excruciating detail inside it. To tell the truth, I will be surprised if this motion doesn't go through. Doe #4 has a *LOT* of legal precedent on his side :)

          Why, thank you.

        • by jamstar7 (694492)
          John Doe #4 may have some serious legal chops in his skillset, but keep in mind that a lawyer's primary function is to figure ways to bypass the law. And the legal teams fielded by the *AAs tend to be high priced, high powered, and goddamned good at what they do, or they wouldn't bother doing it.
      • by slaker (53818) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:04PM (#40501147)

        In theory, you can tell your client to download the .torrent file and join the swarm without allowing it to download any of the associated files. You might do this to harvest addresses from other clients or to otherwise monitor the torrent.

        It's pretty suspicious behavior, but merely being in a big blob of chattering IPs doesn't necessarily indicate that yours has specifically done anything criminal.

        • In theory, you can tell your client to download the .torrent file and join the swarm without allowing it to download any of the associated files. You might do this to harvest addresses from other clients or to otherwise monitor the torrent.

          It's pretty suspicious behavior, but merely being in a big blob of chattering IPs doesn't necessarily indicate that yours has specifically done anything criminal.

          If this is the case, I'd have to say this technique of harvesting IP addresses would make the person/company just as liable to infringement as all the other people connected to the swarm. After all, how did the **AA agents get the IP addresses in the first place? I'm assuming they hired a company to harvest addresses to popular torrents so they could get IPs of all the Does, bring them to court and profit... maybe.

          • by slaker (53818)

            That is in fact exactly how the *AA harvests IPs from torrents, but torrents in and of themselves are not illegal, only the infringing behavior of sending copyrighted material to another person is illegal.

            • by arose (644256)
              One presumes their contractors don't actually send out any data themselves, they might or might not have a license from the copyright holder to do so, but they can never be sure that there is no content from other copyright holders in any given torrent. That or they just rely on the anonymity provided by the swarm.
      • by Fjandr (66656)

        Not at all. It's more like a party line.

        I use the common line to contact person B. Later, person C uses that same party line to contact person D and E. Person E used that party line to contact person F a week before my contact with person B.

        According to the **AA, all parties interacted together by virtue of access via the party line, despite the massive temporal gaps between those discrete contacts and the fact that, at most, only 3 people were in direct contact with each other, ever.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        The program does this for you. You do not choose who else the data is being sent to. The legal reasonings here are whether or not these people knew each other or aided each other.

      • That's guilt by association, which is unconstitutional, is it not? After all, just because you and I are downloading the same torrent content from the same torrent server from the same torrent indexer, doesn't mean that that action is illegal for both of us.
      • That's not the same thing as a swarm though. You make it sound like people were prosecuted because their neighbours used BT, that's on the same cable too.

        That is exactly what we're talking about actually.

        If you share the same ip address with someone else, only the account holder gets named and sued for having file-shared pornography. And if you poison the data with fake ip addresses like Pirate Bay used to do, or like the University of Portland's study [p2p-blog.com] successfully proved could be done, then some random account holder at the end of some randomly selected ip address can be blamed for that as well.

        This is what makes the "interaction" claim so dubious in the fi

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 29, 2012 @07:15PM (#40500903)

      Depends on if you you're speaking realistically, or riaalistically.

    • Your example assumes you called a certain known endpoint (a person, or an automated telephone answering system) and interacted directly with it.

      BitTorrent downloads from, and uploads to, unknown endpoints that happen to have or want the file, respectively.

      On the one hand, you authorise your BitTorrent client to communicate with these hosts on your behalf, and your goal is the same (to get and give the file); this may constitute a form of interaction.

      On the other hand, you have no control over which hosts yo

    • by msauve (701917)
      "Did you interact with someone if your telephone call to party A was carried on the same transatlantic phone cable as someone else's call to party B?"

      Poor analogy. It would only work if the parties were is different swarms. If parties A and B are on the same conference call, along with others, are they interacting?
  • Not gonna fly (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    If you're connecting to a torrent, it's pretty damn obvious you're expecting to swap chunks of the target file with peers who also want that exact same file; it's how the protocol works for pity's sake. Unless the plaintiff's techs failed to keep records demonstrating that all named Does in the complaint were part of the same torrent, I expect #4 here to get bitchslapped by the court.

    • Re:Not gonna fly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by j00r0m4nc3r (959816) on Friday June 29, 2012 @07:19PM (#40500931)
      If you're connecting to a torrent, it's pretty damn obvious you're expecting to swap chunks of the target file with peers who also want that exact same file

      Except when you connect to a swarm just to see who is in the swarm, like the media companies do. Who's to say that I didn't do the same thing?
      • by DragonTHC (208439)

        but, don't you need to have the file in order to connect to the swarm?

        isn't the swarm protected by an encrypted hash tag?

        doesn't connecting via that encrypted hash tag grant permission to the downloaders by way of the file being present on the swarm shared by those authorized to do so?

        • Re:Not gonna fly (Score:4, Insightful)

          by meerling (1487879) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:46PM (#40501345)
          "but, don't you need to have the file in order to connect to the swarm?"
          No.
          In most cases of file sharing, the very reason to join the activity is to gain the file you don't have, which clearly indicates you do NOT need to have the file in order to connect to the swarm. (Honestly, do you keep looking for your keys after you find them?)
    • Re:Not gonna fly (Score:5, Informative)

      by fish waffle (179067) on Friday June 29, 2012 @07:22PM (#40500967)
      From TFA, being in the same swarm does not mean any given pair (let alone 5-tuple) of participants actually exchanged data. In fact:

      Here, the activity alleged in the complaint not only did not take place simultaneously with each other, but took place at five discrete times involving a single defendant over an 88 day period extending almost three months. The moving defendant (Doe 4) allegedly accessed the swarm at issue on February 3, 2012 at 2:48 a.m. The closest preceding “hit”, that of Doe 5, allegedly occurred 50 days earlier, on December 16, 2011. The closest succeeding “hit”, that of Doe 2, allegedly occurred 15 days later, on February 18, 2012. Such temporal gaps compel a finding that the five Does did not act in concert with each other

      That is not acting "in concert".

      • Be that as it may... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        ...the law is currently imbalanced and unjust. I personally don't care about which minute details do and do not fall afoul of this farce.

        Copyright law does not accomplish its ostensible purpose. Far from ensuring a reward for creation, it ensures that a small group of very rich people stay very rich while the rest of us suffer culturally harmful limitations on artistic expression, appreciation, and participation. Even if the spirit of this law is good, its letter profanes that spirit to the detriment of

    • Re:Not gonna fly (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anubis IV (1279820) on Friday June 29, 2012 @07:44PM (#40501055)

      You're overlooking the fundamental fact that to interact with someone, you need to actually engage in an action with them at some point. Just because you're in a swarm does not mean that you interacted with every single person who ever joined that swarm over the entire life of the swarm, yet that's the sort of logic being applied by the plaintiff's lawyers in this case. They're alleging that Doe #4 interacted with the other Does, despite the fact that there were weeks or months separating his presence in the swarm from theirs. In fact, their own records are damning them in this matter.

      • by DragonTHC (208439)

        it's like being in an irc channel when someone makes specific threats about something.

        Are you responsible for those threats? Did you interact with that person simply by being there in the channel?

        • by vux984 (928602)

          Are you responsible for those threats?

          No, because you didn't make any threats.

          But all participants in the swarm are being accused of infringing copyright.

          However although that part of your analogy fails, it does suggest another point.

          Suppose you are being accused of actually making threats into that IRC channel... but 5 weeks before someone else did.

          Can you two be tried jointly for the same crime? We're you "interacting" ? That's pretty much what happened here.

          Multiple particpants of a swarm are being accus

    • Re:Not gonna fly (Score:5, Informative)

      by dshadowwolf (1132457) <dshadowwolf@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:11PM (#40501193)

      Simply connecting to the same swarm does not mean you are acting in concert with any given other member of the swarm. In fact, you can only interact with a relatively small portion of a large swarm at any given time.

      In this case, however, there is no proof that any of the Does were even *ONLINE* and in the swarm at the same time, regardless. Due to large amounts of legal precedent from other cases (there are several pages of precedent cases quoted in the motion) it is clear that for you to be considered "acting in concert" with another member of the swarm you have to have actually exchanged parts of the file(s) in question with them. In this case there is zero proof that the Does "acted in concert" as the law requires.

      And anyway, the burden on the defense that any of these "joined" 'John Doe' copyright cases places on the defendants - in effect causing there to be a separate "mini-trial" within the overall trial for each separate defendant... To put it simply, there is no guarantee any of the Doe's in any of the cases will be using the same defense. This will place an (and this is a legal term) "unfair burden" on the defense if a given case remains joined.

      But thats besides the point. The "joined Doe Case" is used for an ex parte expedited discovery period so that the plaintiff can then attempt to gain an out of court settlement from the defendents. They then dismiss the "Joined" case and file separate actions against each of those defendants that refuse the settlement offer. And since it is not a "sure thing" they don't want to do that - because the only identity you can get by serving a subpoena on an ISP is that of the account holder - who cannot be proven to have been the actual "criminal" in the case. In fact, it could be a "Significant Other", child, relative, friend or even neighbor of the account holder. Hell, in the case that the account holder has either an unsecured network or one secured with an easily broken security system (such as WEP) the actual "criminal" in the case could have been a complete stranger sitting outside the account holders house in the dead of night.

      Because of the numerous possible defenses that can be argued by each individual defendant, separate cases should - technically *MUST* - be filed instead of a joined case like the one in question. These points are actually made in the motion and they make so much sense that I can see the case severed and the subpoena's on Does 2-5 quashed. (with any information gained via those now quashed subpoenas destroyed and made illegal to be acted upon)

      In case you have not read the motion, please do it before posting. Its shameful to not have all the facts available when you attempt to argue something.

    • by tobiah (308208)

      What if the file you end up downloading isn't the one you expected? Who's to say your IP address and presumably you, intended to download a file which exists under copyright? How do you know it is under copyright?

      • by tftp (111690)

        Who's to say your IP address and presumably you, intended to download a file which exists under copyright? How do you know it is under copyright?

        Imagine that someone takes a gun, points it at someone else, pulls the bang switch ... and nothing happens. The gun was not loaded. Can the unsuccessful shooter walk free?

        IANAL, but as I seem to recall an intention to commit a crime is a crime in itself. That shooter will not be tried for murder, but he can be tried for attempted murder.

        In this case if you s

  • Arguing the validity of allegations of interaction and conspiracy and the subsequent joinder hardly seems necessary when the entire point of the whole process is to avoid legal proceedings entirely via extortion. The lawyers initiating these actions only need the courts to compel the discovery that allows the extortion to continue... since money can't be extorted from an unknown person. Why not focus on the extortion and illegal motives and ignore everything else?

    • I could totally see the law firm saying "Okay. We give up. We'll file suits against the 5 Does separately." I'm sure that well over 5 Does received notice of intent to sue, and were extorted for settlements.

      Of course, the law firm doesn't actually WANT to go through with a trial or anything (or even file suit, really), but if they don't file suit, even half-awake judges are starting to realize that these plaintiffs have no real desire to do anything but extort IP address owners for money with relatively

  • by Xtifr (1323) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:12PM (#40501199) Homepage

    Gee, as soon as I finish getting my legal advice from Slashdot, maybe I'll head over to LawBlog to see if they can help me debug some of my Python code.... :)

    • by TrekkieGod (627867) on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:28PM (#40501273) Homepage Journal

      Gee, as soon as I finish getting my legal advice from Slashdot, maybe I'll head over to LawBlog to see if they can help me debug some of my Python code.... :)

      The submitter is an actual lawyer (it's not just his username). I'd assume he has the legal aspect of this down. He's probably more interested in a technical discussion of what consists of interactions in BT swarms. Slashdot is actually a good place for that.

    • This isn't ask. The end comment is just an unnecessary addition to stir discussion.

      • by jd (1658)

        That's why I prefer my discussions shaken, not stirred.

    • by Ecuador (740021)

      Are you sure you won't be just going for their "In Russiam Sovieticus" or "But does it run Federal appeals" jokes?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 29, 2012 @08:13PM (#40501203)

    Given this is a common practice of extortion which is clearly set forth in this pleading, it would be reasonable for a smart lawyer to research all such cases, contact does with the help of the court. Make a motion that all such settlements were extortion and abuse of process. Seek treble damages, vexatious litigant status for the plaintiffs and their lawyers, and cut this crap off at their balls.

    BTW one can legally download and view any copyrighted work for "educational purposes", yes even porn, without owing the license fee.

    18 USC 107

    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/ts_search.pl?title=17&sec=107

    Section 107. Limitations on exclusive rights: Fair use

                Notwithstanding the provisions of sections 106 and 106A, the fair
            use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in
            copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that
            section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting,
            teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use),
            scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In
            determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case
            is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include -
                    (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether
                such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit
                educational purposes;
                    (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
                    (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in
                relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
                    (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or
                value of the copyrighted work.
            The fact that a work is unpublished shall not itself bar a finding
            of fair use if such finding is made upon consideration of all the
            above factors.

  • A question for those more knowlegeable with current BitTorrent technologies. Does being in a swarm mean you have at least one piece of a given file? Can you actually distinguish between seeders and leechers who have yet to download a single piece of the file? How valid is the argument that I smoked but didn't inhale with regard to connecting to BitTorrent swarms?
    • Re:Swarm = Has file? (Score:4, Informative)

      by DanielRavenNest (107550) on Friday June 29, 2012 @09:41PM (#40501549)

      No. When you download a magnet link from the Pirate Bay, or equivalent, all you have is a hash value, and possibly some tracker names. Somewhere on the network the .torrent file (which has checksums for the blocks and other metadata) is hosted by some other user. The hash value leads you connect with that user, if you have no tracker data, and you get the .torrent file delivered. At that point you don't have any part of the content files yet.

      Via one of the peering networks (DHT, Peer Exchange, etc) or a tracker (if this torrent has some) you can now announce your presence, make connections to others in the swarm, and start to ask for blocks. Once you have at least one block, you can start sending them to others. Sending to others is considered the illegal act, since you are making a copy.

      The peers you are connected to usually report how much of the files they have. If they have less than 100%, they are called leechers, and if they have 100% they are called seeders, but the protocol works the same for both. You just stop asking for new blocks once you have all of them. When you have part of the full set, you can be sending and getting blocks at the same time. That accounts for how popular swarms can grow quickly. As soon as you have one block, you can start passing it on, and a new swarm only has to send one full set from the original seeder to some number of other people, in pieces. Once a full set is "in the swarm", the original seeder can leave, and then the other people can swap pieces until everyone has the full set. That many-to-many swapping is what lets one seed become 10000 for a popular movie.

      (I'm sure others will correct me if any of the above is wrong)

      • by jd (1658)

        If I am reading you correctly, you become part of the swarm at the instant you make the connection. If you never ask for any blocks, you will be disconnected at timeout but all evidence will show you to be in the swarm until that time, so if any node you connect to has infinite timeout you would remain part of the swarm forever even if you have sent nothing and transmitted nothing, merely connected.

        If I'm wrong on that, please say. If I'm right in that interpretation, there would surely need to be evidence

  • Here they go changing the definition of a word again. Their definition of interacting is now like my son(in 3rd grade) is interacting with some 6th grader. Even though my son and this other kid never saw each other, they are 'interacting' because they go to school in the same building.

    Probably a bad analogy, but I gave it a shot.
    • by jd (1658)

      Given that we're talking about lawyers changing definitions to suit them, talking about shooting is probably inadvisable.

  • Access torrents via a client that supports proxying like Vuze [vuze.com]. Then simply invest in a proxy service like BTGuard [btguard.com] and have your IP cloaked through a non-US location (How else ya gonna get Game of Thrones?).

    You can also go through good ole Usenet which has faster speeds than peer to peer like EasyNews [easynews.com]. Happy torrenting!
  • I think I have a very good analogy;
    1. There is a parts dealer who buys stolen parts.
    2. There is a number of parts thieves who do not know each other but happen to steal from the same parts distributor.
    3. At different times the shady dealer buys parts from these thieves.
    4. The shady dealer does not identify the other thieves but tells each thief to supply the parts they have.
    5. When the shady dealer has enough parts he build a car.

    Because the parts were stolen and supplied by thieves who did not know each ot

    • But....You wouldn't download a car? Also "shady dealer" is a pleonasm.
      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        You wouldn't download a car

        But one would download piece of a song. To me, downloading a part of a song is very similar to handing someone a car part. In both cases the part will not function independently and must be joined to other parts.

        Also "shady dealer" is a pleonasm.

        Considering that

        dealer

        is anyone who buys or sells without altering an object. It give no reference to whether or not the transaction is legal hence the word "shady". Not all dealers handle stolen property; many do but not all.

  • My computer is interacting with other computers.

    While i am aware my computer is interacting with other computers to download my file*, neither it nor me actually interacts directly with another human user.
    My only interaction is with my computer to initiate a torrent.

    I would have though this interacting claim is severely weakened in the US due to the ruling that the US that computer output is not included as free speech, the output of a protocol or algorithm is separated from the user.

    *You would have some di

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      If the fact that a computer sent and received the information negates possibility of interaction then it would be easy to get around a conspiracy charge simply by using a computerized answering machine.
      1. Each conspirator calls the machine and reads any messages on the machine.but does not delete them.
      2. They then, if nesessisary, leave a message on the machine.
      Each conspirator only "interacts" with the machine but there still is a conspiracy going on because everyone gets all the messages.

      • by nzac (1822298)

        No, you misunderstand (probably my fault).
        There is user to user interaction on the service conveying human content from one user to the intended recipient, in your example.

        Bit-torrent is only computers interacting based on a protocol, i do not intend to interact with another human i just want the file and my computer on my behalf interacts with another on the swarm. Me with my computer on the being on the same swarm as another swarm as another computer does not involve me having any direct iteration with t

        • by jklovanc (1603149)

          It seems that your premise is that the presence of two computers interacting with each other negates any interaction between the people who enabled the computers. I disagree with that.
          Try a slightly different scenario;
          1. I post to a mailing list of conspirators;
          2. The mailing list then forwards my posts to all others.
          Does the fact that I have not directly emailed the other conspirators negate conspiracy. I know the email will be read by someone and I know I will receive email as I am on the list. There is n

          • by nzac (1822298)

            2. John Doe A, through his computer, downloads segments from John Doe B.

            That is what i'm discussing. I believe it should read:
            John Doe A's computer downloads segments from John Doe B's computer.
            John Doe A did not choose to download from John Doe B this was made as the result of the interaction's of computers. This is a computer generated resault and like Google's search results are not human generated.

            Having a separate trial for each source is not economically feasible for the copyright holder so the want cases joined.

            If there is no interaction this is an arbitrary way of doing it, why not save time and get everyone with the same torrent hash. I think everyone downloading and uploading the torr

            • by jklovanc (1603149)

              The point that you seem to miss is that the human started the process by downloading a torrent file and loading it into a program that a human knew would go out and get segments from other computers. The computer did not decide to select a file and download it using a specific protocol; that was the choice of a human. Just because a human gives commands to a computer does not mean that the human is free from criminal or civil charges.

              If there is no interaction this is an arbitrary way of doing it, why not save time and get everyone with the same torrent hash. I think everyone downloading and uploading the torrent is committing separate crimes.

              Some copyright holders have tried to do just that and have been sanctioned

              • by nzac (1822298)

                The point that you seem to miss is that the human started the process by downloading a torrent file and loading it into a program that a human knew would go out and get segments from other computers. The computer did not decide to select a file and download it using a specific protocol; that was the choice of a human. Just because a human gives commands to a computer does not mean that the human is free from criminal or civil charges.

                Of course its a crime, but its not not a given that the user know how bit torrent work or that they are aware of how other are involved. The minimum is they started a torrent on an installed torrent client possibly by just clicking once on a link on the internet and don't know how to stop it. The question is should rights holders be able to send notices to a person who possibly authorized the transfer for little cost and properly and fairly interpreting the law is it lawful for them to do this?

                To put it succinctly as possible: A human authorizes the upload and a human authorizes the download so when a download takes place both humans are culpable.

                But do I inte

                • by jklovanc (1603149)

                  Of course its a crime, but its not not a given that the user know how bit torrent work or that they are aware of how other are involved. The minimum is they started a torrent on an installed torrent client possibly by just clicking once on a link on the internet and don't know how to stop it. The question is should rights holders be able to send notices to a person who possibly authorized the transfer for little cost and properly and fairly interpreting the law is it lawful for them to do this?

                  Here are the issues with these statements;
                  1. Ignorance of how Bit Torrents is no protection under the law. The person downloading the file knows they are downloading copyright material.
                  2. It is up to a court of law to decide if the download was deliberate or accidental and the determination can only be made once a suit is filed.
                  3. There is a $350 filing fee + lawyer's fees for filing a suit. The issue you seem to miss is that the copyright holder attempted to file one suit which encompasses a number of John

  • Fair use allows for small segments of a copyrighted work to be distributed and consumed by the public, as long as the intent of the distribution is associated with an academic or journalistic purpose.

    So..

    This is the modern internet age.

    Let's say that I exhaustively comb the internet for examples of these real fair use samples found in free journals, news reports, and academic publications, until I have collected sufficient numbers of these fragments to reconstruct whole works from, paper-mache style.

    Would I

    • by utkonos (2104836)
      Well, courts would look at the intent. The intent of a clip with regards to fair use is to exist as a clip. If you go around gathering all the parts, your intent is to duplicate the full copyrighted work, and therefor is no longer fair use, even if all the parts taken individually are.
  • We are all breathing the same air and sharing the same cold viruses, so we are all interacting, including the Judge.
  • This could be a topic to which the Betteridge's Law of Headlines might not obviously apply?
  • Unless you catch a peer red handed uploading infringing material to you, you either need a subpoena or a spyware virus on the peer to prove anything.

    And without probable cause, you shouldn't get either one.

  • I think the filing is very well argued and makes a good case (that's a non-lawyer opinion.)

    However, there is one minor point where it seems to miss the point: In talking about being in the same swarm at the same time not (always) leading to communication, it assumes the swarm is large. If the swarm is very small, being in it at the same time can force communication - the trivial example being if the only members of the swarm are the investigators and the downloader. In this case, there would seem to be a

  • It's entirely possible to join a swarm and never download a single file. I know I've done it before when I couldn't easily find out what files were in a swarm or if they were the same as what I already had. So I would bring up the swarm but choose the option to not download any files before actually starting the swarm. So I would have shown up as a member of the swarm but never downloaded any of the files.

"Probably the best operating system in the world is the [operating system] made for the PDP-11 by Bell Laboratories." - Ted Nelson, October 1977

Working...