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MPAA to Sue BitTorrent Tracker Servers 1019

Posted by michael
from the drowned-in-a-paper-sea dept.
Mirkon writes "The Register and Reuters report that the Motion Picture Association of America is planning to begin a legal assault on websites that host BitTorrent trackers for copyrighted movie files. An announcement is supposed to be made by the MPAA President/CEO today, along with help from CEO of private P2P network developer Red Swoosh, and the CEO of BayTSP, 'which offers file-branding and -tracking applications.' Not that they have any vested interests in this of course. Though the articles take care to mention that this action is not against standard users, how long is it until BitTorrent itself is targeted?" Apropos of nothing, I saw a movie in the theaters a few days ago. At the official start time, the lights dimmed. Then there were 14 minutes of commercials (Pepsi, hair mousse, cologne, etc.) followed by 13 minutes of movie trailers (which are also advertising), followed by a few minutes of junk, followed by a 100-minute movie. I can't imagine why people would want to download movies when they have that great theater experience to compare against.
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MPAA to Sue BitTorrent Tracker Servers

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  • ATTENTION (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @03:44PM (#11085009)
    Please make sure you do not link to Bittorrent sites here on Slashdot, such as suprnova.org [suprnova.org]. If you do, then Slashdot will become liable as they'll be linking to a site that links to copyright materials.

    Also, if that happens, please make sure you remove all links to Slashdot, or links to sites that link to Slashdot, as you'll also be liable.

    P.S. michael, we're sorry you didn't like Blade Trinity, but Triple H was pretty hot, right?
  • Woo! (Score:5, Funny)

    by American AC in Paris (230456) * on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @03:47PM (#11085050) Homepage
    Apropos of nothing, I saw a movie in the theaters a few days ago. At the official start time, the lights dimmed. Then there were 14 minutes of commercials (Pepsi, hair mousse, cologne, etc.) followed by 13 minutes of movie trailers (which are also advertising, of course), followed by a few minutes of junk, followed by a 100-minute movie.

    Wow--heavy, insightful stuff. Looks like somebody is gunning for a Pulitzer!

  • Advertising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @03:47PM (#11085055) Homepage Journal
    Apropos of nothing, I saw a movie in the theaters a few days ago. At the official start time, the lights dimmed. Then there were 14 minutes of commercials (Pepsi, hair mousse, cologne, etc.) followed by 13 minutes of movie trailers (which are also advertising, of course), followed by a few minutes of junk, followed by a 100-minute movie.

    How many of you remember MTV, Nickelodeon, and other cable-only channels were originally commercial-free back in the early 80's?

    Just because these media conglomerates are making money off of you directly doesn't mean they won't try to make it indirectly as well.

    Dan East
    • Re:Advertising (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @03:54PM (#11085157) Homepage Journal
      Not only were they commercial free, that was part of the advertising plan to get people to switch to cable ' its commercial free'..

      That lasted a long time didnt..
    • Re:Advertising (Score:5, Interesting)

      by stupidfoo (836212) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @03:55PM (#11085182)
      How many of you remember MTV, Nickelodeon, and other cable-only channels were originally commercial-free back in the early 80's?

      Ad free television??? You Can't Do That On Television! [ycdtotv.com]

      Best. Show. EVER.
    • Re:Advertising (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BWJones (18351) *
      MTV was originally advertised as being "24hour music commercial free" hosted by VJ's who really did not waste much time in-between videos. Pretty cool. However, I made the mistake of tuning in to MTV a couple of months ago and I can certainly say that it is not "My MTV". Most of it is an ad for something including all of their product placements, and What happened to the videos? There do not appear to be ANY videos.

  • Reform (Score:5, Interesting)

    by millahtime (710421) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @03:48PM (#11085057) Homepage Journal
    So, the MPAA is putting comercials in the movies, sueing people that might help support the effort for movie sharing. Are they hurting for money????? I have not seen any reports on it.

    So, is there a way to reform that indusrty? Or, are we just screwed. Will it become like tv where the movies get shorter just to make room for more comercials and how long until there are comercials in the middle of movies?
    • Re:Reform (Score:3, Interesting)

      by chemical_9 (783522)
      how long until there are comercials in the middle of movies?

      How about now. Product placements in movies have been on the rise over the past few years. If you've been to see National Treasure, then you know what I'm talking about. Good lord that had a lot of placement in it.

      If you want to see one of the best documentaries I've seen about advertising, check this out [pbs.org]. It includes the latest methods advertisers are conjuring up to get around the public's methods of blocking advertising in television (i.e. Tiv

    • Re:Reform (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Drantin (569921) *
      how long until there are comercials in the middle of movies?


      Have you seen I, Robot? Will Smith wants everything vintage 2004...
    • Re:Reform (Score:5, Insightful)

      by C.Batt (715986) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @04:08PM (#11085431) Homepage Journal
      So, is there a way to reform that indusrty? Or, are we just screwed.
      Are they forcing you to watch their shite? No. Yet you cannot, for whatever reason, seem to look away.

      The key: look away.

      Don't consume mass media, either free or for a fee. Just look the heck away. They will then reform themselves, or die.

      Write your own stories. Make your own movies. Who cares if they're "crap"; share them with friends and give em to strangers. Do anything you can, just don't feed the established media industry.

      Start creating. Stop consuming.

      I know. Unrealistic hippie talk. Lay off the crack pipe. Blah blah blah...
      • Re:Reform (Score:4, Informative)

        by John Courtland (585609) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @04:31PM (#11085737)
        You are, of course, correct - but only for now. Once ads become super-invasive to the point where a normal person cannot walk outside without hearing and seeing them, people are going to start going ballistic (or at least I will). It's one thing to advertise for shit during a shit production, I'm perfectly capable of tuning it out or not going. It's quite another to bombard people with advertising to the point they have no recourse but to listen to it. I'm certain this is the dream of many marketers.

        In fact, I'm all for advertisement. How would I know about cool gadget X without it? But the invasiveness and complete obnoxiousness of the current crop of ads really gets under my skin.
      • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @06:15PM (#11087264) Homepage
        [Paul Anka]
        To stop those monsters 1-2-3
        Here's a fresh new way that's trouble free
        It's got Paul Anka's guarantee...
        [Lisa]
        Guarantee void in Tennessee!
        [All]
        Just don't look!
        Just don't look!
        Just don't look!
        Just don't look!
      • by runamok1 (742119) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @07:19PM (#11088099)
        That is a beautiful sentiment. I completely agree. This isn't much but a "me too" post but I think your premise can extend to every area of your life.

        I kind of realize how much help and enjoyment I gather from the internet and all of it's multitudes. So I decided I needed to start writing down my own knowledge (in my case, running, computers, books, etc.) to sort of give back.

        I would gladly pay more for all the information I find on the net than the I would for the latest movie.

        And yet the information is freely given while the 2 hours of enertainment sold by hollywood continues to go up in price.
      • Re:Reform (Score:3, Informative)

        by MMaestro (585010)
        Start creating. Stop consuming.

        I know. Unrealistic hippie talk. Lay off the crack pipe. Blah blah blah...

        Actually, I would say "This is already happening, look at the machinima scene. Three words : Red Vs. Blue." People are already looking away, just not enough... yet.

  • They have a point. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CrkHead (27176) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @03:48PM (#11085061)
    I can see that the tracker sites are providing information that can only be used for getting copyrighted materials.

    I do not see this as a threat to bit torrent as it is not removing the arguement of having other, valid uses.

  • SWAP in person! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MalaclypseTheYounger (726934) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @03:48PM (#11085063) Journal
    Again, I must proclaim this awesome website I found a few months ago:

    WWW.MEDIACHEST.COM !! It's awesome. You can catalog (even use a CueCat if you got one) your entire movie, book, CD, game collection, and place the titles online for others to browse. Meet people in your neighborhood, get together with them, and swap your stuff. Watch each other's movies, read each other's books. Last I checked there is no law against that. (Yet).

    And you get to venture outside, and blink haphazardly at the bright yellow object in the sky that you may not have seen in a while. And maybe make a new friend with like interests.

    (Check my sig for a link to the website)
    • FREE MOVIES (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aggrazel (13616)
      There's this place I found in my neighborhood that has a LOT of movies, books, and CDs, and they let me take them for absolutely nothing... and keep them for a week, sometimes more.

      Sure, sometimes I have to wait for things, but hey, the price is right. All I had to do was sign up for a little card that said I promise to bring it back before its due.

      FREE!

      They call it a "Public Library" ... apparently they've been in business for years, but I don't see how. What a funny business model, letting your custome
  • What if... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vivin (671928) <vivin.paliath@gmaAUDENil.com minus poet> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @03:48PM (#11085070) Homepage Journal
    But the sites themselves do not carry the files. They only have information about the trackers, and are not involved in the actual distribution or sharing of the files.

    So how do they plan to sue them?

    As far as the last paragraph in the article... I don't know what to say... Let's say I wrote a new program to copy files from one destination to another and someone used it to copy a bunch of MP3's and movies, I guess the RIAA/MPAA can knock down my door and come get me... even though I had the totally benign idea to simply copy files from one place to another...

    I guess they should attack any file transferring program no-matter how benign it is? That's like saying let's put the gun in prison instead of the guy that fired it.
    • Re:What if... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TellarHK (159748) <tellarhk@hotmail.LISPcom minus language> on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @03:54PM (#11085175) Homepage Journal
      What they're going to argue is that the tracker sites are designed and operated specifically for the distribution of copyrighted materials. We might like to think they're on shaky ground with that kind of argument, but legally they have a pretty good chance of winning if certain things are evident.

      1: Jurisdiction.

      2: Intent.

      Jurisdiction is something the MPAA has been good at manipulating for years. They'll find a way to get jurisdiction over anyone they actually sue, or mirrors, etcetera. Intent will be really easy in case of sites like Suprnova that have entire sections named off for things like Movies, Comics, Music, Games, etcetera. The sub-grouping of categories, show titles and other such breakdowns within those areas I listed above will be the most presentable evidence used to show "Hey, these people knew they were distributing copies of X TV show or music by this specific artist - they have a section with X's name on it.".
      • Mod Parent Up! (Actually, it's already at four... so nevermind.)

        The Law(tm) isn't like source code; slashdotters seem to have trouble understanding that. It is open to interpretation, and it can ask questions about intent (what you MEANT instead of what you DID). And it's pretty clear that suprnova's INTENT is to contribute to copyright infringement.

    • Re:What if... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sc00ter (99550)
      to facilitate a crime is still a crime. If you knowingly let drug dealers use your vacation home you never go to, it's still a crime, even if you're not the one dealing the drugs.

      Also note that they are going specifically after trackers that are putting up torrent files to movies. Not after bittorrent, or torrents sharing, say, linux CDs.

      People that post torrent files to say "The Incredibles" know exactly what they're doing.

    • Re:What if... (Score:3, Interesting)

      They will sue them using 17 USC 501. Google for Vicarious Copyright Infringement and Contributory Coypright Infringement.

      Contributory copyright infringement requires that the MPAA can prove there is reasonable expectation of knowledge of infringement (they can see filenames) and there is material contribution to the act of infringement (they're a tracker). Someone has to be guilty of direct infringement for contributory copyright infringement to be possible (so a dead torrent, where everyone's at 0% and
  • Guess You'd (Score:3, Insightful)

    by The Dobber (576407) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @03:49PM (#11085077)

    rather pay even higher ticket prices. See, the advertisers defer some of the cost of the movie, be it at the production level, distribution or showing.

    Don't want to sit through some commercials, tough tittie, still doesn't give you the right to steal it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @03:50PM (#11085093)
    I bought the Shrek 2 DVD, and Disney forces you (at least on my non-modded DVD player) to sit through several minutes of adversting under the guise of previews/trailers before the movie starts. Skipping the previews is a prohibited operation. I can understand how they might do this on a $89 rental copy, but not on MY (MY) personal $19.99 copy. I should NEVER be forced to watch previews.
    • And they wonder why users clamor for a tool that will allow them to rip DVD's for backup and conveniently drop all the mandatory commercials from the "backup" copies...
    • by Erpo (237853)
      I should NEVER be forced to watch previews.

      Well, from a techincal perspective, you're not forced to watch the previews and commercials. If you were tech-savvy enough and you valued the time it would take to create a back-up of the dvd without the prohibited user operations less than you valued the pleasure of watching a dvd without opening commercials, then you could rip them out. Nobody can ever stop you from doing anything you want to content on a medium that is physically in your posession if you have
  • Choices... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lucabrasi999 (585141) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @03:51PM (#11085103) Journal
    ...followed by a 100-minute movie.

    Of course, the 100-minute movie was filled with dozens of product placements (actor A holding a can of "Pepsi" while actress B says "I have to check my AOL account").

    Michael, quite your whining. You chose to go to the movie. No one forced you to do this.

  • Trailers? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Folmer (827037) * on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @03:51PM (#11085108)
    When i go to the theater i like watching the trailers, and judging by the download count of the big movie trailers i'm not alone. I really dont see any problems with that, and if you have a problem you can always arrive late and miss them. When i was in the states a couple of years i could swear that they showed at least 15 minutes of commercials on tv. Every hour!
  • by which way is up (835908) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @03:52PM (#11085129)
    The fact that the RIAA and MPAA are now going after the people breaking copyright law instead of writing legislation aimed at crippling technology and suing service providers is a good thing.

    Now, of course there are still some stupid hybrid technological/legal measures they're pushing like 5C encryption and the broadcast flag. But if unlawful uses of file sharing/copying/archiving diminish due to fear of individual suits, then legitimate fair use will become a significant part of what is being prevented by these measures and they'll hopefully stop or be forced to stop them. Hopefully.

  • Apropos (Score:3, Funny)

    by SilentChris (452960) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @03:53PM (#11085139) Homepage
    "Apropos of nothing..."

    True, that is apropos of nothing. Myself, (apropos of nothing, of course) I like mittens.
  • by Lead Butthead (321013) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @03:53PM (#11085143) Journal
    MPAA: What happen ?
    Minion: Somebody set up us the Tracker.
    Minion: We get packet.
    MPAA: What !
    Minion: Packet Sniffer turn on.
    MPAA: It's you !!
    Torrents: How are you gentlemen !!
    Torrents: All your MOVIES are belong to us.
    Torrents: You are on the way to destruction.
    MPAA: What you say !!
    Torrents: You have no chance to survive make your time.
    Torrents: Ha Ha Ha Ha ....
    MPAA: Sue every Tracker!!
    MPAA: You know what you doing.
    MPAA: For great PROFIT.
  • Century Theaters (Score:3, Interesting)

    by readams (35355) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @03:54PM (#11085156)
    Century theaters do not show TV ads before their movies. AMC is absolutely intolerable because of their advertising practices. I absolutely refuse to go to AMC theaters because of this. Century has all the same movies with a much better experience.
    • Re:Century Theaters (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bm17 (834529) *
      Is there some way of finding out, online, which theatres include ads? I would be willing to use that information to boycott certain venues.
  • by physicsphairy (720718) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @03:56PM (#11085200) Homepage
    Quite frankly, BitTorrent is the less convenient way to 'steal' movies. I think there have been advertisements here on slashdot for it, but NetFlix is a business where you pay a monthly fee and they mail you movies, and you mail them back and pick new ones as often as you like. If I had the harddrive space, I could easily rip a hundred dvds with much less hastle than downloading them.

    What I can't get is TV episodes. If I knew where to buy them, I would (Invader Zim, anyone?) but I can't find any.

    So it's really a shame to have the tracker services shutdown.

  • by petril (109301) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @04:00PM (#11085311) Homepage Journal
    Tuesday, 14 December 2004

    Early this morning National Bureau of Investigation and BSA have busted finnish BitTorrent link site Finreactor for distributing copyrighted material worth of million euros.

    According to sources, NBI raided the admins homes today and seized all the computer equipment and storage media for further investigation, but released the suspects shortly after the raid. The site itself has been down since early hours of today. Site had over 37,000 registered members and had links to more than 6,000 pirated releases on BitTorrent network.

    Read the Full story [2039.org].

    PS. If you are finnish, read this [waymeet.net].
  • by kwertii (305902) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @04:01PM (#11085324) Homepage

    .. that the BitTorrent trackers will just migrate to places like Russia and China, where there are no intellectual property laws to speak of, and where the Clerk of the Court would laugh if a lawyer for the MPAA tried to file a lawsuit against people for running trackers.

    What are they going to try next? Snooping on people's personal net connections at home? They'll add a trivial encryption layer to BitTorrent - just try and prove what's being transferred over that link to Russia. Firewall China and Russia off from the rest of the Internet? Make encryption illegal? I don't think (or rather, I desperately hope) that people will accept such measures.

    The information genie is out of the bottle. Business models that rely on the sale of information are doomed. It may take 50 years for them to finally give up on these models - they'll fight tooth and nail to save them, since they essentially rake in mountains of cash for doing nothing except copying digital media, which is now practically free. The long, slow decline of the viability of selling information has begun.

    On the other hand, the active propagation of disinformation in schools has successfully managed to convince many people that "drugs are bad, mmmmmkay..." in the absence of any rational logical supports for the arbitrary classification of certain drugs as "bad", and others as "not drugs". (Only certain drugs - caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol are socially acceptable and legal; marijuana is (somehow) not, even though alcohol clearly has far more deleterious social and personal health effects).

    Perhaps they'll wage a similar disinformation campaign to indoctrinate our children to believe in the sacredness of intellectual property, and thus get people to accept that encryption should be illegal, to prevent information piracy....

    • by Hershmire (41460) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @04:23PM (#11085618) Homepage
      Ah, but you forget that they need encryption for their DVDs. And here's the beautiful part: once they add an encryption layer to BitTorrent, it will be impossible to sue anybody over movie sharing. Thanks to the DMCA, if they sue you, they obviously illegally broke encryption somewhere along the line and would be liable themselves (as well as nullifying their evidence). So they're heading to an oh-so-delicious Catch-22. If they lobby to repeal the DMCA, it will become legal to crack DVDs. If they don't lobby, they can't legitmately find out who's actually trading movies.

      Of course, they'll then sue for the movie rights.
      • Thanks to the DMCA, if they sue you, they obviously illegally broke encryption somewhere along the line and would be liable themselves (as well as nullifying their evidence).

        Sorry, this won't work. The DMCA makes it illegal to decrypt without the copyright owner's permission. In this case, it would be the copyright owner himself who is suing. He has his own permission to do the decryption. The DMCA will not stop this.
  • What this is about (Score:3, Insightful)

    by frovingslosh (582462) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @04:05PM (#11085395)
    This is not about lawsuits against someone who is only publishing information about files, rather than publishing any (potentially) copyrighted information themselves. What it is about is someone with a lot of money filing lawsuits against someone who can't aford to fight them.
  • by AusG4 (651867) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @04:20PM (#11085597) Homepage Journal

    Here in Canada, when you go see a movie (at least, downtown Toronto at the Paramount or some of the larger "Famous Players" theatres), they are screening a short, 5 minute film before the feature presentation.

    The film, at first, looks kind of interesting. It shows a portly teamster-looking gentleman talking about rigging up explosives to place on the back of cars in order to accomplish the spectactular car crash stunts seen in many movies (the example they show is in Enemy of the State [imdb.com], when the Will Smith and Gene Hackman characters are being persued by the NSA agents along the railway tracks). He talks about different special effects techniques and how dangerous, yes rewarding it can be both for the stuntmen, and ultimately the viewer.

    This, of course, promptly degrades into a sermon about how "I'm such a nice portly man and I put in all this time and then someone makes a few clicks on their computer and STEALS all of that hard work.", followed by the new catch phrase of a movie industry that recently made this piece of shit [imdb.com]: MOVIES: THEY'RE WORTH IT.

    Then, following this propaganda, we were all warned warned that staff equipped with night vision technology would detain, violate and then charge anyone caught with any technology being used to record the film.

    When I returned home, i stole 3 movie off the internet... and I never download movies from the internet.

    When, oh when, is the MPAA going to notice that even the foolish RIAA is way ahead of them? At least the RIAA has tried to "meet us halfway" with things like the iTunes Music Store and Napster 2.0, etc. The MPAA is still locked into their early 20th century mentality and shows no signs of change. Perhaps when the current crop of studio execs retire and the younger, more enlightened next generation takes over, things will start to improve.

    Then again....

  • by michrech (468134) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @05:13PM (#11086255)
    Apropos of nothing, I saw a movie in the theaters a few days ago. At the official start time, the lights dimmed. Then there were 14 minutes of commercials (Pepsi, hair mousse, cologne, etc.) followed by 13 minutes of movie trailers (which are also advertising), followed by a few minutes of junk, followed by a 100-minute movie. I can't imagine why people would want to download movies when they have that great theater experience to compare against.

    I've already told the local theater owner that if I ever go to see a movie at his theater and get ANY commercials except the movie trailers, I will never go there again, and do as much as I can to make sure no one else does either. When he started to stammer, I told him that if he wasn't making enough to pay the bills that he needed to raise prices, not put advertisements in. It's bad enough that he has a slide show with local ads (but they play before 'start time' so they are easy to avoid if you don't go to the movie on the day it's released) We don't have any of the 'national chains' here. It's a locally owned theater.

    If he ever does put the ads in, I'll just wait for the DVD. And before someone chimes in about how they will be in the DVD too, well, let's just say that my modded Xbox doens't care. I can start where ever I want on the DVD. That includes skipping the commercials.
  • by TheNarrator (200498) on Tuesday December 14, 2004 @07:02PM (#11087913)
    Somebody should spin off bittorrent, make some slight changes to it and call it "I'm a whore and so are you". Then when the MPAA goes and talks to the news media and get interviewed they will say "Yes, Mr. Oreily we here at the MPAA are taking a tough stand against 'I'm a whore and so are you'". The hilarity will make the whole fear of "cookies" debacle seem barely amusing.

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