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Piracy Your Rights Online

Most Torrent Downloaders Are Monitored, Study Finds 309

Posted by timothy
from the you-ah-being-vatched dept.
derekmead writes "A new study from Birmingham University in the U.K. found that people will likely be monitored within hours of downloading popular torrents by at least one of ten or more major monitoring firms. The team, led by security researcher Tom Chothia, ran software that acted like a BitTorrent client for three years and recorded all of the connections made to it. At SecureComm conference in Padua, Italy this week, the team announced that they found huge monitoring operations tracking downloaders that have been up and running for at least the entirety of their research. According to the team's presentation (PDF), monitors were only regularly detected in Top 100 torrents, while monitoring of more obscure material was more spotty. What's really mysterious is who all of the firms are. Chothia's crew found around 10 different monitoring entities, of which a few were identifiable as security companies, copyright firms, or other torrent researchers. But six entities could not be identified because they were masked through third party hosting. Now, despite firms focusing mostly on just the top few searches out there at any given time, that's still a massive amount of user data to collect and store. Why? Well, if a reverse class-action lawsuit were feasible, those treasure troves of stored data would be extremely valuable."
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Most Torrent Downloaders Are Monitored, Study Finds

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  • monitored torrents likely to be monitored... news at 11.
    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      >>>monitored torrents likely to be monitored... news at 11.

      "Film at 11" was the old catchphrase used by TV stations. And you're right this is hardly new information, though it is interesting to see HOW much torrents are monitored. After getting caught 3 times I decided to download stuff from a private tracker..... no more problems.

  • Don't care (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @11:54AM (#41223579)

    Scare tactic away. I'm going to keep downloading.

    I can get a product the media assholes won't give me at ANY PRICE! For free.

    It's not even up for debate anymore. I'm not listening to the media mafia anymore. Wrong? Illegal? Immoral? Stealing from the artists?
    Sure whatever you say fucknuts. I'm going to keep downloading anyway. And teach other people how to as well.

    Go try to convince and have an arguement with someone who still cares. I'm going to do whatever i want.
    Why? Because fuck you thats why.

    And no matter what i do. I'll never be as big of a douche as anyone from the media mafia. Never.

  • Better products (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wowsers (1151731) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @11:54AM (#41223581) Journal

    One day the illegal media cartels might actually get it, that the "pirates" provide a better product. No adverts for other films (Disney is top culprit but there are others), no trailers accusing you of being a crook despite buying a legit DVD / BluRay, no DRM... no regiuon coding, in other words, it just works. The illegal media cartels just p people off with their crappy product.

    The problem is, the politicians in many countries that can sort this out have been bought and paid for by the illegal media cartels, so expect no change to their tactics.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Just because you dont like them doesnt make them "illegal media cartels"

      But using that term does make you retarded.

      • Re:Better products (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Baloroth (2370816) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @12:07PM (#41223711)

        OK, you're right. They aren't illegal. That is to say, they aren't illegal under the letter of the law (because they paid a lot of money to help write those laws), they're legal ones that write the laws that they then use to bully, intimidate, and extort individuals to pay them money while ensuring no one can form competition against them.

        They totally are a cartel, though, and a thoroughly scummy one at that.

    • Re:Better products (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @12:03PM (#41223669)

      Yep.. if you don't like the terms the artist provides the content under, you can just do what ever you feel like.

      Like when Linksys used Linux for it's routers, and didn't provide the source code... the FSF went after them for it, and they eventually settled and provided the source.

      And that was their mistake. They should never have settled or provided source. They should have just told the FSF to fuck off. GPL non-compliance makes for a better product!

      • by houghi (78078)

        Yep.. if you don't like the terms the artist provides the content under, you can just do what ever you feel like.

        This isn't about the artists. This is about the copyright holders. Seldom is that the artist.

        This is about Disney, Sony and the other companies getting control over what you can do. Where you can go and what you can buy.

        This is about companies who buy laws, so that they are in your disadvantage and in their advantage.

        Government should be there to protect the little guy. Instead it fucks them over

      • by Solandri (704621)
        OP isn't advocating that users pirate movies and music. OP is saying that the poor user-friendliness of the media companies' products drives people to piracy in order to get a better product.

        Your Linksys analogy doesn't really work in this context because the end product put out by Linux and Linksys aren't the same. A better analogy would be OS X. It's based on BSD Unix. BSD Unix has a tiny market share compared to other OSes, even compared to Linux. But Apple came along, gussied it up with a pretty
      • Re:Better products (Score:5, Insightful)

        by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @05:25PM (#41227829)

        Yep.. if you don't like the terms the artist provides the content under, you can just do what ever you feel like.

        Small problem: The artist has no say in how the content is distributed. Take Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. Ever seen it on TV? Can you find a copy on the internet? As a matter of fact, it's very rare to do so because Martin Luther King's dysfunctional family wants money for it. A seminal work, part of our cultural heritage, and easily one of the top 100 speeches ever given in the United States, can't be shown in public because now that King is dead, his family owns the copyright.

        I do not think King, if he were still alive, instead of his shit-eating family, would say that people who air his speech should give him or his descendants royalty payments. I think, in fact, he may have been rather shocked at how his own family is participating in this new form of slavery and oppression of his people -- by preventing his own message of peace and goodwill from being heard by others.

        So would you propose that we allow his speech, and that of all civil rights leaders who have died and the rights to their words passed on to their greedy children or a trust, corporation, etc., be striken from history? Because that's what copyright law has done here, and in many, many other cases.

        Our children don't know much about history because it's all been revised, and then copyrighted, and then sold off piece by piece. Their only culture is a collection of brand names, pop music, and shitty internet memes. You can thank copyright law for that... it has cut off our access to the past, to our own history and culture... and most of the damage is irreparable.

    • Re:Better products (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DCstewieG (824956) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @12:44PM (#41224245)

      I was stunned when I watched the Hunger Games Blu-ray this weekend as what I thought was the lead up to the main menu in fact lead to a large message: "Previews for Your Mandatory Viewing". This was a purchased copy mind you, not a rental version. Of course now the Main Menu button was disabled, fortunately the chapter skip button was not (it must not be able to or it would have been).

      This button disabling shit is unbelievable, even the Stop button. Yes, the Stop button.

      To paraphrase John Siracusa, everything about Blu-ray sucks, except the AV quality, which you can't get anywhere else (legally).

      • by RogerWilco (99615)

        I got onto the BluRay bandwagon just over a year ago. It lasted for about 4 months.

        The 6th or so disk I bought was for Avatar. I couldn't get it to play. When googling I found out that it probably required a software update to my Pioneer player. Due to some weird incompatibility with my TV, the software update menu doesn't work. I fiddled with it for an entire evening, over 3 hours.

        In the end I downloaded the movie and watched it that way, despite having a legal copy.

        I decided then and there never to buy a

    • by twocows (1216842)
      I think the problem is more one of convenience than quality. I think most people have no problem ignoring that sort of stuff, the problem is that it's much more inconvenient to go out and buy or rent a product than it is to go to whatever torrent site and just download it (at least for many people; the remainder are probably the ones who still buy in-store).
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's safer to rent movies and rip yourself, direct download links for movies, borrow an open Wifi point, and direct exchange content with friends (hard drive swaps). These methods are far safer than Bittorent. As for TV shows, those seem to be a bit unclear in terms of legality (tested in courts), and not taken to court that I am aware.

    • by Orga (1720130)

      You must make a distinction, there are different ways one can torrent things. Some ways are less secure that others... if you say just want to use some public tracker from your home pc, then sure, that's not very safe. If you want to say... have a seedbox hosted in a non MPAA, RIAA friendly country and pay that account with untraceable bitcoins using a fake email account you set up over a VPN and then only use private trackers and use SFTP to bring everything back to your home machine I'd say you're safe

  • Analytics (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @12:02PM (#41223657)

    A friend of mine works for a UK company (musicmetric.com) that provides artist popularity data to record companies and other entities (top list providers, etc). One of their data points are monitoring of music torrents. Note that this data is not for the purpose of lawsuits but just to see which artists/albums/songs are popular in different countries and regions (even down to city level using geoip lookup). Their spiders/crawers/monitors they have deployed are, AFAIK, hosted by a 3rd party hosting provider. I also know there's another competing company in the UK doing the same thing.

  • I'm guessing many of them are marketing companies, since torrent feeds give you a fairly accurate picture of what's hot or not and where without the PR spin. Otherwise I don't see much point, the legal value of an IP deteriorates quickly - either you have to send a C&D or sue now, in a year nobody knows who it belonged to.

  • Name the 6 entities! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sparticus789 (2625955) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @12:11PM (#41223755) Journal

    "But six entities could not be identified because they were masked through third party hosting."

    NSA
    FBI
    FAPSI
    GCHQ
    CSE
    GCSB

  • Why does it matter that they keep track of this information. Pretty soon we'll all have an IP address and we'll be globally trackable and tracked.

    Seems about right to me.

    • Why does it matter that they keep track of this information. Pretty soon we'll all have an IP address and we'll be globally trackable and tracked.

      I agree. When this happens I'll run an anonymous proxy and all of you can download as if from my IP address. I will become the Digital Jesus, being punished for all of your digital "sins". When they strike me down, I will become more powerful than they ever imagined...

  • Incorrect title (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hentes (2461350) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @12:15PM (#41223813)

    "We only detected monitors in Top 100 torrents; this implies that copyright enforcement agencies are monitoring only the most popular content music and movie on public trackers," the team says in its presentation paper.

    So only people downloading the latest movies/music are monitored.

    • Re:Incorrect title (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @12:22PM (#41223879)

      "We only detected monitors in Top 100 torrents; this implies that copyright enforcement agencies are monitoring only the most popular content music and movie on public trackers," the team says in its presentation paper.

      So only people downloading the latest movies/music are monitored.

      FWIW, Pogue's column in the latest Scientific American claims that of the 10 most pirated movies over the internet, none are out there for legal rent or purchase.

      • I think you mean this article:
        http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-hollywood-encouraging-onine-piracy [scientificamerican.com]

        Pogue (don't get people started on him), said:

        Of the 10 most pirated movies of 2011, guess how many of them are available to rent online, as I write this in midsummer 2012? Zero.

        Note that while you added on "or purchase", the article never states this.

        Which is a good thing, too, or Pogue would probably have been called out.
        I don't know who 'the authority' on the 10 most pirated movies of 20

    • by Orga (1720130)

      The list of top 100 would of course change over time.. the torrents are monitored not the people downloading. Likely they're recorded. Monitoring people is a whole other story.

      • by Hentes (2461350)

        Define monitoring people. The IP addresses of peers are logged, according to the paper.

        • by Orga (1720130)

          "Define monitoring people."
          In this sense I'd say monitoring is then tracking the activity of that IP address unrelated to the specific torrent that was just then downloaded.

    • Open Wifi (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bussdriver (620565) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @01:01PM (#41224495)

      Once monitored, who knows what else they may be doing with your IP address and it MAY NOT BE YOU. Go to somebody's yard use their open Wifi and touch just one of the Top monitored files and they'll get on the monitor list.

      Hate your neighbor? use their Wifi to torrent a bunch of movies currently out in theaters. Six strikes...they probably won't even realize it is the Wifi before being banned by the local monopoly. (In my area both ISPs signed up with the content Mafia so you are probably banned from internet almost completely.)

      Does anybody think it is time to start connecting their neighborhoods on their own?

  • Since about 99% of the population will commit some sort of copyright infringement in their life, they can hold it over you in the event you decide to make a complaint.
  • EULA (Score:4, Funny)

    by dmbasso (1052166) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @12:19PM (#41223849)

    Well, if a reverse class-action lawsuit were feasible,

    No, my EULA explicitly says you drop your right for a class-action lawsuit.

  • I'm looking at the list of films I can go see at the cinema today. None of them are worth this level of intrusion. Stop making films and music it's bad for freedom. :)
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Personally, I don't care if the movie business or the music industry dies. Let them. They're almost universally a bunch of self-congratulatory assholes to begin with. There might be a lack of blockbuster movies for awhile, maybe, but I doubt it. And certainly, they can't argue that we'd be missing out on "quality" music if the music industry shuts down, because most of the crap they provide these days is marketing with a tune anyway.

      People are going to keep making this stuff and, one way or another, it

  • It might be easy but it's going to make you worry the next day and might come back to haunt you later.

  • There are several reasons why I think reverse class action suits or even fine-per-infraction would happen. If all you do is download, then the copyright holders would have to not only identify you (and IP's are not reliable) but also get around fair use (depending on where you live) in the case where you download content you've already purchased. If you're also seeding, then chances are you will probably get caught sooner or later.
  • If you get in on a torrent when it first is released and get out as soon as you download it because you are in a repressive country like the USA, they havent even started monitoring it by the time you already quit and your IP had fallen off. RSS feeds of TV shows are your friend along with a modified program that stops seeding as soon as you have it downloaded.

  • by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @01:41PM (#41225067)
    Where I work, we have monthly-ish meetings that also includes watching a classic type of "Blood On The ____" workplace safety film. Naturally, at the beginning, there is the FBI warning about stealing imaginary property...

    I really do hope to meet an example of someone who pirates safety films: a thieving cheapskate who is concerned for his employees well-being.
  • by rexbinary (902403) on Tuesday September 04, 2012 @02:35PM (#41225785)
    It must be exciting for them to monitor me downloading Fedora or openSUSE.

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