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Piracy The Courts

Comcast Allegedly Confirms That Prenda Planted Porn Torrents 175

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the copyright-lawyer-doesn't-know-copyright dept.
lightbox32 writes "Porn-trolling operation Prenda Law sued thousands for illegally downloading porn files over BitTorrent. Now, a new document from Comcast appears to confirm suspicions that it was actually Prenda mastermind John Steele who uploaded those files. The allegations about uploading porn to The Pirate Bay to create a 'honeypot' to lure downloaders first became public in June, when an expert report filed by Delvan Neville was filed in a Florida case. The allegations gained steam when The Pirate Bay dug through its own backup tapes to find more evidence linking John Steele to an account called sharkmp4." The problem for Prenda being that initiating the torrent would give anyone who grabbed it an implied license.
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Comcast Allegedly Confirms That Prenda Planted Porn Torrents

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  • no (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @03:20AM (#44615483) Journal

    ." The problem for Prenda being that initiating the torrent would give anyone who grabbed it an implied license.

    Good luck using that idea in court.......

  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @03:36AM (#44615519) Homepage

    It doesn't quite work that way. Whether the copyright holder uploaded it or not is in and of itself a minor point. The question would be whether the downloader knew or reasonably would have known that the copyright holder had uploaded it and intended to distribute it. It's perfectly legal for the copyright holder to lay a trap for infringers, and the fact that it's the copyright holder laying it won't get the infringer a pass on the infringement. The only defense you might have is a claim that the copyright holder went beyond just laying a trap and actively induced people to download the files. That's going to take more than just uploading them and passively seeing who downloads them, the copyright holder would've had to go out inviting people to download the files and actively represent the files as legitimate or otherwise OK to download (if they didn't give any indication they were the copyright holder and didn't represent the files as legit, you'd still be seen as being willing to download something you knew wasn't legit without any inducement by the copyright holder).

    OTOH, while the above holds true in general, Prenda isn't the general case. With all the shenanigans Prenda and Steele et. al. have pulled, if the only source for the pirated files was uploads by Prenda itself the judge may well hold that no infringement would've occurred but for Prenda's own actions and Prenda can't claim damages that they were the primary cause of. That, though, is more in the way of a sanction against Prenda for the other unethical-bordering-on-illegal actions they've taken in these cases than a defense against their claims. I wouldn't advise depending on it against a less-outrageous plaintiff.

  • by Tyr07 (2300912) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @03:49AM (#44615557)

    You may not understand how a torrent works.

    In order to "upload the files" there is no passively seeing who downloads them.
    Downloading a .torrent file itself isn't illegal.

    The torrent file links you to someone who has the files in question, and that person actively uploads them to you.

    So what has happened is the copyright holder posted a link to their files on one of their computers, and actively uploaded the files to several users, who in turn uploaded them to more users.

    Prenda directly uploaded their copyrighted material to users who requested it. This is not a passive function.
    This would be the same if you walked into a store, and the owner pulled a book off the shelf, walked out side and handed it to a stranger.
    Said nothing, and walked back inside. Then phoned the police and said you didn't have permission to have that book from their store.

    Prenda, should they have done this, circumvented all password and user functions to protect their content, and uploaded it freely to those who requested it.
    It would be like if you fell on a webpage looking for content, and it started playing in the video box, then they sued you for not signing in / paying for their content.

  • by jopsen (885607) <jopsen@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @05:59AM (#44616019) Homepage

    I'm not sure the Viacom situation applies. Legally Viacom would have been well within its rights to upload a clip, then demand YouTube take down an identical clip uploaded by a user, it's their content.

    When you hit the upload button, you also agree to some terms... Google give you the ability to login with the user that uploaded the video and remove it.
    But if you file a DMCA take-down notice, and/or sue over it, that's probably abuse of the legal system. Considering that the upload terms explicitly grants Google a license to the work (probably an irrevocable licence).

  • by garutnivore (970623) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @06:46AM (#44616151)

    Except, with torrenting, you're distributing without authorization.

    Torrenting does not amount to "distributing without authorization." Here's a motion picture that was distributed through torrenting by its author from the get go:

    http://www.sitasingstheblues.com/ [sitasingstheblues.com]

    When I torrented it, I did not distribute it without authorization! And I'd expect posters on this site to know that Linux distros are distributed by torrenting, again, with authorization.

    I know that the RIAA, MPAA and their ilk want everybody and their brother to believe that torrent == illegal but we should not swallow their bullshit.

  • by Tyr07 (2300912) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @07:48AM (#44616377)

    The issue is that there are legit files torrented. PB has been host to them, as the promo bay and so fourth. So since the only distinction between illegally downloading and distributed copyrighted content without authorization is when people without authorization upload the content, then other people download the content and continue to distribute it.

    So if an authorized person uploaded content to other users, those users didn't do anything wrong. You can't actively upload files to people and then turn around, sue them saying you're not allowed. If they permitted that then it's not a crime, it's a new business model, and I'll get right on suing you for reading this content without approval or authorization even though I posted it online to slash dot you're not authorized to view it.

    Make sense when I put it that way?

  • by tekrat (242117) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @09:37AM (#44617487) Homepage Journal

    Honeypots should be illegal.

    If I am a band and I decide to distribute my music free to anyone that wants it, it's still copyright "my band", but apparently free to distribute. I've given users on the internet an implied license to download and use.

    I cannot turn around later and start suing people who downloaded my music.

    So, if you are the copyright holder of a porn movie and you set up a honeypot to sue people, your act of uploading the movie creates an implied license for others to download and use.

    Therefore you should NOT be able to sue. It seems to me that copyright holders want it both ways; to be able to freely distribute and freely sue anyone they want, whenever they want.

    But the real irony is that; once it's on the internet, the NSA has a copy, and good luck trying to sue those guys...

  • Re:Next step (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArsonSmith (13997) on Tuesday August 20, 2013 @10:23AM (#44618065) Journal

    Why do I find this the scariest part of the summery:

    "The allegations gained steam when The Pirate Bay dug through its own backup tapes to find more evidence linking John Steele to an account called sharkmp4.""

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