Microsoft-Funded BitTorrent Disruptor Won't Make Pirates Pay, But Might Break The Law

from the pointless dept

There was quite a bit of chatter recently about a Torrentfreak article discussing an operation called “Pirate Pay,” which was funded by Microsoft, and claimed it could track and shut down unauthorized works being transmitted via BitTorrent. The report claimed that Walt Disney Studios and Sony Pictures were already customers. The description of how it works is as follows:


“We used a number of servers to make a connection to each and every P2P client that distributed this film. Then Pirate Pay sent specific traffic to confuse these clients about the real IP-addresses of other clients and to make them disconnect from each other,” Andrei Klimenko says.

John Pettitt, former VP of engineering at BitTorrent (who we’ve heard from before in a very different context related to software patents), noted in a mailing to Dave Farber’s IP list that what Pirate Pay described didn’t sound particularly effective or (more importantly) particularly legal.


Reading the article it sound like they are spoofing traffic to confuse torrent clients and force disconnects. It’s not at all clear if this will work against all versions of the protocol (particularly the udp based version). Leaving aside the technical issues it’s also unclear if such action is legal. It sounds like a targeted denial of service attack, a major corporation paying for such an attack leaves itself wide open to civil and criminal legal action particularly if they accidentally target the wrong torrent which given the history is highly likely.

Anyone want to take a guess as to how long it will be until a major entertainment company issues one of these misguided attacks on the wrong torrent, leading to an effective denial of service against legitimate content?

One other thought on this. The company’s name is “Pirate Pay,” which I’m sure the Hollywood folks get a kick out of. However, it’s worth asking the question: how much of this activity would actually get anyone to pay? We’ve noted in the past that the entertainment industry seems much more focused on “stopping piracy” than it is on “getting more people to pay.” You can argue that the former leads to the latter but there’s little evidence to suggest that’s true. Yet there is tremendous evidence that offering compelling services without significant restrictions at a reasonable price does, in fact, get people to pay. It’s a tragedy that the industry isn’t doing nearly enough of that, but instead seems focused on these harebrained (and potentially illegal) schemes to attack people.

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Companies: pirate pay, sony pictures, walt disney studios

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Comments on “Microsoft-Funded BitTorrent Disruptor Won't Make Pirates Pay, But Might Break The Law”

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103 Comments
Anonymoussays:

Anyone want to take a guess as to how long it will be until a major entertainment company issues one of these misguided attacks on the wrong torrent, leading to an effective denial of service against legitimate content?

Preliminary analysis suggests that it would not be difficult for a third party to redirect an attack launched by X intended for torrent A toward torrent B — without X’s knowledge. Emphasis “preliminary”: a great deal more work needs to be done here.

DannyBsays:

Re: Re:

But can’t Microsoft claim that any “accidental” disruption of Linux ISO torrents is legitimate protection of Microsoft’s IP?

After all, Microsoft has managed to twist the arms of various companies so that they sign patent extortion agreements. Examples would include: Tom Tom, HTC, Samsung, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and many others.

In fact, Microsoft claimed they make more money from each Android phone than from each Windows phone.

Sarcasm: this must surely mean that there is something there of substance to Microsoft’s patent extortion license agreements of Linux devices.

Therefore, disrupting Linux torrents must be okay, somehow. Microsoft must just be protection unlicensed distribution of Linux which is covered by Microsoft patents.

(I’m going to be sick now.)

Josh in CharlotteNCsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Of course they contribute. It’s a key part of “Embrace, Extend, Exterminate.”

Thanks for the link, though. I especially liked the part about Microsoft contributing 20k lines of code for server virtualization, and after a few years of work, that part is down to 7k, and is now less buggy and supports more devices. Hadn’t heard that one before.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Microsoft hates Linux. That is why it is one of the top code contributors to the project.

Sure, but what kind of contributions are those? They are all drivers for the kernel to be used as a guest system in MS’s Hyper-V. The code even fell out of the kernel development once because it was very buggy and after they put it in noone from MS maintained it.

Yes, Microsoft contributes code to the Linux kernel. But nothing useful. Only to keep companies who are switching to Linux as a VM to use Hyper-V (and thereby Windows) as a host.

Anonymoussays:

Easily blocked...

It seems this would be extremely easy to block, as peer-blocking is already a pretty popular tactic.

Once these “bad peers” are detected, and added to one of the popular peer-blocking lists, their effectiveness would immediately drop substantially.

All this will do is force more people to use peer-blocking programs – and I suspect all the major torrent clients will eventually include such functionality if they don’t already.

Yet more cat and mouse antics – and someone is there to gobble up the money from the corporations who believe this shit actually works (the same who spend millions on DRM schemes that fail quickly).

LDoBesays:

Re: Re: Easily blocked...

Indeed,

The most popular torrent clients all have peer-blocking capabilities built in, if not turned on by default. These include:
uTorrent
Transmission (comes default with Ubuntu and variants)
Deluge
Azureus, and Vuze.

There are other security features available in bittorrent as well, such as using encryption, and blocking peers dynamically when they send too many bad packets.

Finally, there are also pseudonymous file sharing services like anomos, and others that can guarantee at the very least, plausible deniability.

Any attempt to try and destroy filesharing is bound to fail. People HATE being censored, and that is what blocking the transfer of ANY information is.

Even if society is willing to tolerate low levels of censorship, there will always be those who can’t stand it.
“Like a splinter in their mind” as stated in The Matrix (fair use goddamnit, I can quote small passages without anyone’s permission)

Radcow Anusymoonsays:

Re: Re: Easily blocked...

“It seems this would be extremely easy to block, as peer-blocking is already a pretty popular tactic.”

As I gather, it involves spoofing IP addresses.

In that case, peer blocking is something that would have totally the opposite effect, it would assist the attack.

For example, nodes A and B are sending one another data. This makes them peers. Node C, sends fraudulent data to B while pretending to be A. B blocks A.

Node C never reveals its IP address. You can’t add it to any kind of a blacklist.

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to defend against the attack. I get the impression that an individual packet analysis hasn’t yet been conducted.

Anonymoussays:

…how much of this activity would actually get anyone to pay?

What are you talking about? It got Disney and Sony to pay.

And the amount Disney and Sony are paying is most likely less than what they think they are losing by allowing Piracy to run rampant. So they CBA checks out.

This is one of those win/win situations everyone loves, right?

Except for the part of it not stopping piracy, not offering the consumer anything, costing legacy players more money in a futile attempt to change reality and potentially screwing innocent users – I don’t see anything wrong with this plan.

Robertsays:

Still don't get it.

All they will do is drive innovation for a new filesharing protocol and client/server application.

They won’t get anyone to magically switch to “legal” methods of acquiring material. That isn’t their goal anyhow, this tool won’t even target movies or music from major labels, it will target the competition, the indies.

In the words of Sam Kinison on It’s a Bundyful Life “No, much like a neutered dog… you don’t get it.”

John Doesays:

I for one am becoming less willing to pay

how much of this activity would actually get anyone to pay?

I am not currently a pirate. But the more difficult the industry makes it to get content, consume content, pay a reasonable price for content, the more and more likely I am to become a pirate. Putting in DRM, anti-piracy notices, region restrictions, etc is causing me to think more and more of getting my content elsewhere so that I can consume it when, where and how I want to not when, where and how the industry wants me to.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: I for one am becoming less willing to pay

” so that I can consume it when, where and how I want to”

Which is also the most cheapest way of doing things, on the consumers side that is.
On the corporates end, not so much!

Hence the resistence, cant buy a single media once, and then being able to use it on ALL my media devices, can i ….oh no, i gotta pay for the exact same media, again, for all my devices i decide to consume said media on

Its good to be greedy

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: I for one am becoming less willing to pay

Its not just DRM, that limits us to using one media per device either, you also have to contend with other stuff, which usually gets us poor folk locked down to a walled garden, i say poor folk, because if your well off, then you’d be able to afford what you want when you want and how you want it

You got your

Walled gardens
Proprierty cables
Proprierty video codecs
Exclusive rights to resources necassary for companies to stay competitive with one another such as popular, hence profitable, music, tv shows, movies, ebooks, games, “gadgets” etc etc
and my all time favorite, greed, negotiating to store, sell, host, produce, advertise, represent etc etc, is gonna be a pain in the butt, if the person selling is trying to butt rape you at the same time

BentFranklinsays:

If I were a studio, I would create a digital version of the movie that starts out great, but degrades slowly over the next 20 or so minutes, then gets completely unwatchable, followed by some kind of scolding anti-piracy message. Then I would use my astroturf minions to upload that file to all the torrent sites. That would teach those downloaders a lesson in their own language. All this other heavy-handed bullshit they are doing is just stupid.

DogBreathsays:

Re: Re:

Yea, that will work. It worked for Madonna… oh, wait

Madonna swears at music pirates – 22 April, 2003

Popstar Madonna is known as a woman who does not mince her words.

She has used her forthright manner to try to stop online piracy of her latest album, American Life.

File-sharing networks have been flooded with fake tracks, which contain no music but instead have Madonna saying; “What the f*** do you think you are doing?”

But despite efforts to stop unauthorised copies appearing on the net before its release, the album was readily available for download on several MP3 websites last week.

BentFranklinsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well, Madonna gets +1 from me now! She at least has a thinking brain.

It would be easy to write a program that made minor modifications to file bits and titles and kept uploading files via Tor. Before long the poisoned files would vastly outnumber the real ones. It would take pirates many manual hours to identify the poisoned files and take them down. Meanwhile they will have proliferated to other seeds. You can’t fight automated with manual, no matter how many ways you paraphrase John Gilmore.

The AAholes can do this legally (or at least as legally as their opponents) and I would support it if that would mean they would get off their imperial control trips and stop attacking liberty.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

It would be easy to write a program that made minor modifications to file bits and titles and kept uploading files via Tor. Before long the poisoned files would vastly outnumber the real ones. It would take pirates many manual hours to identify the poisoned files and take them down.

Are you not aware that this has already been tried and that it was a miserable failure?

If it were that easy to disrupt P2P networks, they wouldn’t be nearly so useful. But it’s not.

Josh in CharlotteNCsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

It would be easy to write a program that made minor modifications to file bits and titles and kept uploading files via Tor. Before long the poisoned files would vastly outnumber the real ones.

This briefly worked back when Morpheus/Kazaa/Limewire were the main sources. Two things happened: they started to implement peer based ratings, then the copyright holders killed those networks off (kinda). Pirates moved on to the next platforms, and now anyone who regularly uses torrents knows to pay attention to the ratings and comments which fill up quickly with “Fake” for that stuff.

You can’t fight automated with manual

Tell that to China, with their near inexhaustible supply of cheap labor. Tell that to the spammers who blow through CAPTCHAs with ease by using humans en masse who think they’re doing something else.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

It would be easy to write a program that made minor modifications to file bits and titles and kept uploading files via Tor. Before long the poisoned files would vastly outnumber the real ones. It would take pirates many manual hours to identify the poisoned files and take them down.

it’s been tried before, a couple of years ago, and it didn’t work. they were fake torrents uploaded by no-name accounts. even though they had thousands of seeds, the comments were jammed by warnings that they were fakes. within a day or two the bad torrents just fell off the vine.

release groups have reputations to maintain and they take it very seriously.

Anonymoussays:

‘Anyone want to take a guess as to how long it will be until a major entertainment company issues one of these misguided attacks on the wrong torrent’

you mean it hasn’t already been done? surprising. since when have any of the entertainment industries worried about whether what they are doing is legal or not?

such a shame that even though they keep saying how many more legitimate sites there are, how many more legitimate options there are for downloading music and movies, not once has there been any admission that the prices being too high, the formats being what they want and not what the customers want, the speed being too slow, the availability being too spasmodic worldwide and the constant presence of crippling DRM is keeping people from buying from those legal options. they want people to buy. people are prepared to buy but it has to be what the people want, not what the industries want or think customers want. they have tried that approach and failed miserably. move on!!

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

since when have any of the entertainment industries worried about whether what they are doing is legal or not?

Well, they wrote the laws and paid to have them put on the books, so they probably feel that they legitimately have the right to do whatever they want to “protect” their interests, including disrupt pathetic legitimate torrents from creators too bad at business to understand how to properly “monetize” their creations.

I wish I were being sarcastic.

Anonymoussays:

Well this is stupid.

Unless your the one running this “Pirate Pay” scam, this is very stupid. It makes the assumptions that pirates and piracy is a static unchanging object. Considering most torrent programs are open source, it takes a surprisingly short amount of time to adapt to the ‘bug’ presented by any attempt to disable them. Open software, like the internet, interprets censorship like damage, and fixes the issue with patches and new versions.

As for the ‘revolutionary’ product they are selling; well, unless you’re a bot, this won’t stop even the stupidest of pirates. We have this thing called checksum now.

Trailssays:

This is a brilliant idea that will absolutely work!!!

..for two weeks, max, until some nerd develops a filter/workaround, and life goes back to normal.

At worst, a month until some more resilient protocol emerges.

In the meantime, have fun DDoS’ing legitimate bittorrent users (e.g. Blizzard) and getting their legal attack teams all frothy.

golfclap for MAFIAA.

Anon Cowardsays:

No More TV For Me

I used to be a huge couch potato and hated to miss even a single show. Since I would use Megavideo to stream the ones I missed, I kept going back for more and more and more, even though I was paying over $700 a year for cable television. Once they had their goons in DC kill Megaupload, I started missing shows and just stopped watching them altogether. In the past year, not only have I cancelled my cable TV subscription, but my TV habit has gone from close to 30 hours a week to maybe a half an hour. This wasn’t done in protest or because I can’t afford the content, it’s just too hard to make an appointment to see a show and my interests changed. Now that I’ve lost 40lbs, I’m healthier and a lot happier and wouldn’t consider signing up for cable again, even if they started to pay me. Maybe I’m not the norm, but good job Hollywood, that’s $700 less per year that you get to support your industry.

Anonymoussays:

Microsoft-Funded BitTorrent Disruptor Won’t Make Pirates Pay, But Might Break The Law

That’s funny Masnick. When your heroes at Anonymous are DDoSing the Library of Congress, The White House, etc it’s a digital sit-in. However when companies do it to protect their own intellectual property, it “might break the law”.

Your obsession keeps making you nuttier and nuttier. You should pirate a copy of “The Caine Mutiny” to see how you end up.

The Logiciansays:

Re: Re:

Your insults and condescension undermine your credibility, Pink AC. If you wish to be taken seriously, remove those from your arguments. Also, it has been shown that this program will be quite ineffective at its stated goal. And its implementation does indeed tread the line of legality. The difference between this and what Anonymous does is that they have a legitimate grievance which they are expressing. The companies pushing this solution do not.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Your insults and condescension undermine your credibility, Pink AC. If you wish to be taken seriously, remove those from your arguments. Also, it has been shown that this program will be quite ineffective at its stated goal. And its implementation does indeed tread the line of legality. The difference between this and what Anonymous does is that they have a legitimate grievance which they are expressing. The companies pushing this solution do not.

No one takes any voice contrary to the Techdirt narrative seriously. It’s simply laughable to suggest otherwise. For the record, you too are as full of shit as Masnick. The companies have a legitimate grievance in that their copyrighted intellectual property is being distributed in this manner. And for the record, fuck Anonymous for being the bunch of dumb asses that they are. When CISPA passes, they should get the credit. The stupid fucks swam right into the net.

Shadeyonesays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

Respectfully disagree with you, even though it looks like you couldn’t be bothered to do the same. It’s not that no one takes an opposing view seriously, it’s that it almost always comes wrapped in swearing, anger and ad hominem attacks.

If I told you to stop playing in the middle of the street because you’ll get hit by a car in a kind manner you’d probably listen. If I swear at you, call you a bleeping moron, insult your mother and tell you to move your fat@ss, you’re probably going to laugh, swear back at me, and keep doing what you’re doing until someone runs you over with their truck.

I don’t always agree with what Mike and Techdirt’s views on everything, just most of the time. I’ve also seen some really good opposing views from some people, but it was framed in a respectful tone with evidence and support.

Name calling usually ends up with more name calling

Anonymous Cowardsays:

Re: Re:

“Your obsession keeps making you nuttier and nuttier.”

And now that we’ve come to the realization of what your problem is and what effect it’s having on you, what are we going to do about it? Perhaps stop visiting the site written by the Lord High Pirate Apologist and frequented by his Socialist Minions who reign praise on him daily? Seriously, you don’t like it, get lost. You come off as having a huge hard on for Mike in general, in a “Mike get a restraining order from EVERYONE who resides at the address where this loon’s IP address is coming from” kind of way.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

“Microsoft-Funded BitTorrent Disruptor Won’t Make Pirates Pay, But Might Break The Law

That’s funny Masnick. When your heroes at Anonymous are DDoSing the Library of Congress, The White House, etc it’s a digital sit-in. However when companies do it to protect their own intellectual property, it “might break the law”.

Your obsession keeps making you nuttier and nuttier. You should pirate a copy of “The Caine Mutiny” to see how you end up.”

That one stank of desperation, try again

G Thompsonsays:

Re: Re:

Anonymous Coward, May 14th, 2012 @ 3:30pm
Microsoft-Funded BitTorrent Disruptor Won’t Make Pirates Pay, But Might Break The Law
That’s funny Masnick. When your heroes at Anonymous are DDoSing the Library of Congress, The White House, etc it’s a digital sit-in. However when companies do it to protect their own intellectual property, it “might break the law”.

In other words.

Anonymous coward who is Anonymous states that he/her/it has committed an illegal offence Anonymously.

Please take yourself to the nearest LEO station and submit yourself for re-education or a new brain.. both are most likely needed.

G Thompsonsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

woosh I was making a relevant point about the hypocrisy that is the AC in question.

Also Anonymous do NOT all come from 4chan’s /b/ you might be intrigued where some of them actually hail from and who they actually are. I’m not talking about the script kiddies or those with the ability to download DDOS utils. I’m talking about the multitude of individuals who have been working with, for and via the internet (and before) who are fed up to the eyeballs with the hypocrisy that is the bureaucratic and corporate controlled feudalism we find ourselves in.

As I have stated before[…]Anonymous is everything anyone wants it to be and everything you don’t.

It’s an IDEA not a group, its a meme not a gathering, its a conceptual take on the original virtuality and Plato’s shadows.

Or it’s none of the above. Though it could just be that person sitting across from you, that person you see fleetingly everyday and give a nod too, or that person who stares back at you in the mirror.

This isn’t the first time this sort of thing has been offered. And while it might potentially break the law. People uploading pirated content are already breaking the law. So it’s a bit late to cry wolf on that point.

What does bother me is the potential for accidentally or deliberately blocking a legitimate peer offering legitimate content. Microsoft are funding this thing. Microsoft are currently trying to kill the competition. Linux is part of that competition and many Linux distros use torrents.

And then there’s Hollywood whom it seems regularly asserts copyright on content it has no right to if bogus take down notices are anything to go by.

And if you can block a torrent peer, surely it’s not a huge leap to start blocking other content.

Given the potential for abuse I think this sort of thing should be illegal if it isn’t already. The law exists to deal with criminals.

That One Guysays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

Actually from what I understand of it they did go before a judge in the Dajaz1 case, it’s just that (one of) the problems there though was the lawyers representing Dajaz1 were essentially stonewalled the entire time with ‘you have no right to the info pertaining to this case’.

The difference between ‘no judge order needed to shut down a service/site’, and ‘judge order needed, but both sides aren’t equally represented or able to affect the case’ are negligible at best.

That One Guysays:

Re: Re:

This isn’t the first time this sort of thing has been offered. And while it might potentially break the law. People uploading pirated content are already breaking the law. So it’s a bit late to cry wolf on that point.

Umm, no. Just no. You do not respond to one person’s act of breaking the law by breaking the law yourself. If nothing else, that just paints the person breaking the law in retaliation as a, oh, what’s that word… ah yes, it’s hypocrite.

G Thompsonsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Actually you are incorrect, uploading a file might be UNLAWFUL due to a breach of Intellectual property

A Denial of Service attack on a communications service is a CRIMINAL offence and therefore absolutely breaking the law

They are not the same. One is a civil offence (and only in certain circumstances can be considered criminal and only if for commercial purposes) the other is definitely criminal at all times and can also be classified as a terrorist action or even “act of war”.

G Thompsonsays:

Re: Re:

Actually you are incorrect, uploading a file might be UNLAWFUL due to a breach of Intellectual property

A Denial of Service attack on a communications service is a CRIMINAL offence and therefore absolutely breaking the law

They are not the same. One is a civil offence (and only in certain circumstances can be considered criminal and only if for commercial purposes) the other is definitely criminal at all times and can also be classified as a terrorist action or even “act of war”.

The rest of your comment is perfect though

Rekrulsays:

Anyone want to take a guess as to how long it will be until a major entertainment company issues one of these misguided attacks on the wrong torrent, leading to an effective denial of service against legitimate content?

What difference will it make? Everyone knows that the entertainment industry gets a free pass, since they’re the ones calling the shots…

The Moondoggiesays:

And Nerdwars ensues....

Let’s see how amusing this will turn out: Right now people pay for a secure P2P connection for their torrents. With this is in the picture, it would force developers of torrent clients to make it more secure, for free.

Corporate a55h0le nerds vs heroic pirate innovation nerds….

LET THE BATTLE COMMENCE!

Poor Micro$oftsays:

I really fell sorry for Microsoft. They’ve has so much trouble with people trying to steal their software. Bill Gates is down to 76 billion dollars personally and we all know how thoroughly Microsoft works on getting their software perfect and error free before it ever leaves development.

I heard that Bill sent out a worldwide notification that he wanted to return half his personal profits to customers who had had troubles with his software and EVERYONE wrote him back, saying, “No, we’d rather you go around the world giving it away while promoting vaccines and Monsanto.

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