Home > All, General Rants, Politics, Security Issues > The Biter Bit – the entertainment industry exposed as pirates

The Biter Bit – the entertainment industry exposed as pirates

December 13, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Yesterday, Brian Krebs discussed youhavedownloaded.com

You may have never heard of youhavedownloaded.com, but if you recently grabbed movies, music or software from online file-trading networks, chances are decent that the site has heard of you. In fact, you may find that the titles you downloaded are now listed and publicly searchable at the site, indexed by your Internet address.
Who Knows What Youhavedownloaded.com?

It does pretty much what the entertainment industry does – it monitors the internet looking for illegal downloads. The difference is that the entertainment industry will then sue the pants off you. Youhavedownloaded.com doesn’t do that. You can just visit the site and see if you’re exposed to the ever-increasing anti-piracy copyright-protecting draconian laws. And as a bit of fun, if you know their IP addresses, you can scare your friends by telling them what illegal downloads they’ve made. It is a perfect example of the dual-purpose weapon: could be used for good or evil; or fun.

Or you could use it to turn the tables on hypocrites – hypocrites such as the entertainment industry itself. This is what TorrentFreak has done.

Armed with the IP-ranges of major Hollywood studios we decided to find out what they’ve been downloading. As expected, it didn’t take us long before we found BitTorrent ‘pirates’ at several leading entertainment industry companies. Yes, these are the same companies who want to disconnect people from the Internet after they’ve been caught sharing copyrighted material.

First up is Sony Pictures Entertainment. As shown below, on this single IP-address alone a wide variety of music and movies have been downloaded. And this is probably just the tip of the iceberg, as YouHaveDownloaded only tracks about 20% of all public BitTorrent downloads.
Busted: BitTorrent Pirates at Sony, Universal and Fox

TorrentFreak goes on to list some of the many acts of piracy it located. It adds

We aren’t the only ones to come up with the idea of revealing the BitTorrent habits of copyright advocates. Yesterday, the Dutch blog Geenstijl exposed how someone at the local music royalty collecting agency Buma/Stemra downloaded a copy of the TV-show Entourage and video game Battlefield 3.

In a response Buma/Stemra issued a press release stating that their IP-addresses were spoofed. A very unlikely scenario, but one that will be welcomed by BitTorrent pirates worldwide. In fact, we encourage Sony, Universal and Fox to say something similar. After all, if it’s so easy to spoof an IP-address, then accused file-sharers can use this same defense against copyright holders.

It is indeed an unlikely scenario. I asked security expert David Harley, a senior researcher at ESET, what he thought about spoofing. At the time, I had been wondering if you could abuse the site for revenge on an ex or wandering partner. “I guess if you can spoof an ex’s IP, you can abuse the system. I’m sure we’ve all seen enough stories to be aware that ex’s do play all sorts of unpleasant games with their former, or even current partner’s systems – not to mention their Twitter accounts. Since the site combines the unacceptable combination of sloppy (“Eric, we don’t bother ourselves to separate dynamic IPs. The site is just for show”) and judgmental (“Well, you are in the clear. But look what others do”) I can see that the scenario you suggest is possible. However,” and this is the point, “pinning an illegal download to a specific machine is not forensically trivial even with ISP cooperation and still-extant logs.”

In short, it can only really be treated as a bit of fun. The problem is, the government/ entertainment industry unholy alliance is treating it for real.

ESET

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