June 22, 2006 6:10 PM PDT

Torrentspy names alleged MPAA hacker

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A month after accusing the Motion Picture Association of America of conspiring to commit data theft, the operators of a file search engine presented more details regarding the alleged relationship between the MPAA and a man who admits hacking the small company's network.

Valence Media, the parent company of Torrentspy.com, charges that the MPAA paid the Canadian resident $15,000 for information on Torrentspy and its executives, according to documents filed Thursday with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles.

"I contacted (the MPAA) and offered to provide it information regarding (Torrentspy.com founder) Justin Bunnell and Torrentspy," according to a signed statement by Robert Anderson, the man identified elsewhere in the filing as a "hacker."

Among the claims by Valence Media is that as part of its attempt to gather information on Torrentspy, the MPAA hired private investigators to comb the trash cans of Torrentspy executives. Valence Media obtained this information from Anderson, who for undisclosed reasons has agreed to help the company against the Hollywood industry group, according to copy of the suit obtained by CNET News.com. Valence Media has asked a judge to order the MPAA to turn over the information taken by Anderson and to identify anyone that the association may have shared it with.

This is the latest volley in a legal battle that began in February, when the MPAA sued Torrentspy and other directories that it accuses of contributing to the theft of copyright movies. Some file sharers use search engines, such as Torrentspy, to locate downloadable movies. The movie industry group has aggressively pursued those accused of distributing copyright material, as well as directories that the MPAA says are abetting piracy.

An MPAA spokeswoman did not immediately return phone calls, but the association issued a broad denial to Torrentspy's initial charges.

Valence Media charged in its suit that on June 10, 2005, MPAA executives met with Anderson, a resident of Vancouver, Canada. Dean Garfield, the MPAA's director of legal affairs, was among the association's representatives who agreed to pay Anderson $15,000 to obtain private e-mails, financial and technology information, according to the court documents. Garfield could not be immediately reached for comment.

An MPAA executive told Anderson: "We don't care how you get it," Valence Media alleges in the court documents.

Anderson, who could not be immediately reached for comment, was successful at breaching Torrentspy's computer system, Valence Media alleges. By rigging Torrentspy's e-mail system, Anderson received copies of company e-mail as soon as they were sent or received, as well as important login information, according to the suit. This allowed him broad access to company data, Valence Media claims.

The company's suit said Anderson managed to pilfer a spreadsheet of company earnings and expenses, indexes of file architecture, screen shots of proprietary search functions and even a utility bill belonging to one Torrentspy executive.

In July 2005, the MPAA reviewed Anderson's work and wired $15,000 to a Toronto-based bank account, according to the court documents.

CONTINUED: A loophole for the MPAA?…
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16 comments

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MPAA and RIAA
These two groups need to be disbanded. They are as guilty as the folks they are chasing down.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.techknowcafe.com/content/view/547/42/" target="_newWindow">http://www.techknowcafe.com/content/view/547/42/</a>
Posted by (156 comments )
Reply Link Flag
By any means necessary
Bah....what does a little bending and breaking of the law matter as long as the execs get their yearly bonus.
Posted by Jonathan (832 comments )
Reply Link Flag
teft - not
Copyright infringement does not constitute theft as per most legal definitions.

Theft typically requires physically removing something from someone elses possession, coupled with the intent to deprive them of its use. Copyright infringement physically removes nothing (since a copy is being made) and although it may deprive the owner of the rights of some potential income, it does not deprive them of the use of the original.

Check it out with a lawyer if you do not believe me.
Posted by wasserfish (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Come on
On the other hand, it seems pretty clear to me that torrentspy and the like profit from illegal activities.

Who buys this whole "we're just a search engine" crap anyway ? It would not be that hard for them to make sure that they do not index copyrighted material by implementing a name-matching function (don't index files with DVDRIP in their names, or files containing names of popular warez groups,files with 'screener').

Just start browsing the website and you see torrent of copyrighted material immediately. They could take it down if they wanted to, but instead wait until they are contacted (and by the time they take down the infringing material, somebody else has already posted a new link).
Posted by damienlittre (33 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So...
So I guess Google is guilty too? Or Yahoo. Or MSN. You can find illegal torrents there too along with many things as well. Removing stuff you "think" is illegal is censorship. The only way to know for sure it is illegal is to download it, which would THEN be an illegal activity.

This runs around the same line as the senitor that was touting a particular filtering software. This software flagged the text of the Constition as obscene, as well as the senitor's own website (his name was Dick).

No company should be forced to censor; nor is it a search engines job to try and determine what is illegal or not. It is simply not possible. If it was cut and dry as to what is legal or not, then we would not need a court system.
Posted by umbrae (1073 comments )
Link Flag
Hmmmm...
If you told someone, "Hey, there's a guy on the next street selling drugs!" would you be breaking the law for "indexing" drug traffic? Maybe you'd be an accomplice. Would your defense be that you're just stating a fact? Seems like a good defense, but I suppose a good prosecutor could get you locked up for a few years. Wouldn't be fair, though.
Posted by skeeboe.com (10 comments )
Link Flag
blocking filenames
As for filtering the filenames this would just result in the illegal content being re-seeded under a 'clean' name. Unless of course you are suggesting that ONLY the media companies can use names that contain their works or names that contain part of their works.

For instance should LucasFilms be the ONLY companiy that can use:

SWE1,SWE2 etc
Star Wars
Starry War 1

Should Sony only be able to use words such as:

Spears
B. Murphy
One more time

pretty soon EVERY word would become illegal due to the possible reference to a piece of someone's Copyrighted works!


I can post a file CALLED ANYTHING I WANT and the only grounds that the Media Robber Barrons could complain on is IF the content really was copyrighted or if the name of the file was a copy righted or protected phrase.

So yeah maybe they SHOULD filter out files that contain the COMPLETE (and ONLY the complete) name of a copyrighted work but then again maybe not. Should the file 'Star Wars Sucks' be blocked because it has the name of a movie in it? What if it's a clip of some girl ranting about how Star Wars sucks because her boyfriend dresses up like Annikan and shows him wearing goofy clothes playing a big stick he calls a light saber?
Posted by The user with no name (259 comments )
Link Flag
peerweb.org & other g2 gnutella sites
are still all over the place. much harder to shut down the network and remove the files. a little slower sometimes thats the price you have to pay sometimes.
Posted by yohohoandabottleofrum (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Eliminating piracy via name filtering is like blocking the sun with a sieve
What the subject says.
Posted by quasarstrider (439 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Will Robert Anderson be charged with a crime?
If the charges in this story are correct, Robert Anderson has committed a Federal crime.

This should be interesting.
Posted by Arbalest05 (83 comments )
Reply Link Flag
indeed
Doing something illegal for legal purposes? hmmm

Well, I guess it's illegal unless the government has you do it/or they do it.
Posted by the liquid man (44 comments )
Link Flag
No, he won't be.
Robert Anderson lives in Canada. I'm pretty sure that he couldn't be
prosecuted under U.S. law. However, if a charge were brought
against him in Canada, he would probably be liable.
Posted by GUYINTHECHAIR (7 comments )
Link Flag
Look, I get it, but . . .
Okay, Hollywood, as a website co-owner and small media
company co-owner, I understand the whole "we own the
content" thing, but I to employ a hacker to illegally get
information about people downloading movies (and the RIAA's
similar tactics), then sue 'em for it is (1) illegal from an evidence
stand-point, (2) under the old proverb, "two wrongs don't make
a right", and (3) nothing to worry about if heavy copy protection
is encoded into the film prints and DVDs that are coming out
(see Underworld Evolution for new copy protection schemes,
very well done, I applaude it). But to hire this fellow to swipe
data? Nope. Sorry. That's stealing. I'm on Torrentspy's side on
this one, and I own media property of various sorts at my two
companies. No, we don't dump content, especially from the
media company, onto the Net, but we don't copyright the
podcast or blogs under a restrictive copyright, either. In the
position we're in, piracy may help with exposure, but not the
bottom-line (my accountant doesn't want to read that).

I crap on Hollywood for using a hacker, but applaude them for
new copy protection techniques. And I applaude Torrentspy and
that lady last year your slammed a countersuit against the RIAA
for using the same techniques. Strange how the RIAA suits are
drying up for just randomness, because, gasp! they need to get
"real" evidence through "legal" means (tell the FBI, the FBI goes
to a judge, presents the case, gets a warrant, goes to house,
takes said computer, ergo, the legal process upheld).

Programmer #A-5 of www.totallyparanoia.com

PS I also own restraunts, but only had maybe $50 total in stolen
food over ten years taken from me.
Posted by fakespam (239 comments )
Reply Link Flag
LOL @ applause for Underworld2 Copy Protections
From my understanding from reading various Forums (because OF COURSE I do not violate the DMCA myself!) your precious Underworld2 CP was NO protection at against anyone who has been backing up movies for more than a few weeks.

While I DO NOT condone the theft of OPP I also DO NOT condone the theft of a consumer's rights to back up their media as well as their Fair Use rights. For instance, people actually being able to WATCH a movie that they purchased from a different region once they get home to their region 1 dvd player, or making their own ringtones from their legally purchased music instead of having to pay YET AGAIN for a SNIPPET of the same song!

Of course as a 'content creator' and your applause of CP that take away people rights, I'm guessing that you also would be just as happy as the RIAA and MPAA to have your customers keep purchasing the same crap from you over and over as well instead of being able to make fair use of the purchased products.
Posted by The user with no name (259 comments )
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