Keeping safe while sharing files, whether it be while downloading or uploading, is crucial to avoiding any undue attention. When using file sharing programs, computers are susceptible to IP harvesting (collecting) by anyone else sharing the same files - whether it be a *.torrent, or files being swapped on P2P programs such as Limewire.
There are a variety of ways to implement anonymity:
- [IP Blocking](../../04/ip-blocking-blocklists/ “IP Blocking & Blocklists”) - blocks snooping IP addresses.
- [Web proxies](../../05/anonymous-proxies-proxy-servers/ “Anonymous Web Proxies”) - for anonymous browsing.
- [Proxy Servers](../../06/anonymous-proxy-servers/ “Proxy Servers for Anonymity”) - to hide your real IP address (web & P2P programs).
- [Anonymity Software](../../07/anonymity-software/ “Anonymity Software
- Installing Proxies via programs”) - to automate the proxy process.
And lastly, use [anonymous P2P](../../14/p2p-programs-designed-for-anonymity/ “Anonymous P2P clients & networks”) programs that are specifically designed to achieve anonymity.
Why be anonymous? What are the risks, really?!
There are many organizations whose sole purpose is to search for people that are sharing copyrighted material - they are employed by a larger company under the MPAA, RIAA, or BSA (or other similar regional group or anti-piracy organization).
An “IP address” is the unique identification number of any computer connected to the Internet and is detectable by any website or through any files shared or obtained by P2P software.
In an effort to prosecute illegal P2P file sharers, the MPAA and RIAA (in particular) are participating in online file sharing by submitting fake torrents and offering decoy P2P files in order to track the users who are involved. They’ve been doing this for years: One example most people are familiar with is the ’sharing’ of bogus .MP3 music files in popular P2P programs like Kazaa - where the downloader ends up with a song full of white noise instead of the actual music. Harmless enough, right? Just download another version and move on. Well, maybe not. Since Sept. 8, 2003, there have been over 20,000 RIAA lawsuits (Recording Industry Association of America) targeting individuals who share music files. That’s over 400 cases per U.S. state! And the even scarier statistic is that they are demanding (and receiving) judgments of up to $9,250 per shared song, upon conviction. And as of right now, they are embarking on a new campaign to send out a “new wave of pre-lawsuit letters to more individuals”. The RIAA even has a website set up at https://www.p2plawsuits.com where recipients of these letters can go and settle their cases online. How handy!
Unless you live in Canada, P2P safety should be high priority. The innocuous days of Napster are over.
The MPAA has taken a slightly different approach: Cut out the middleman and go straight for the BitTorrent websites. This has been effective against Bit sites hosted in the homeland U.S., however, it is almost impossible to litigate against jurisdictions in other countries with different laws regarding file sharing. There have been some personal litigation suits filed against movie pirate downloaders, but they are few and far between in contrast to the RIAA cases.
Ever received one of those nasty DMCA email takedown notices in your Inbox from your ISP? Usually the attachment starts off like this:
(Comcast) has received a notice stating that activities associated with your IP address are infringing copyright in material(s) owned or exclusively licensed by others…
Then when you read down, it’ll come to the part about which organization is responsible for the notice. This one in particular is BayTSP, who works for a variety of MPAA companies.
BayTSP, Inc. (”BayTSP”) swears under penalty of perjury that Paramount Pictures Corporation (”Paramount”) has authorized BayTSP to act as its non-exclusive agent for copyright infringement notification. BayTSP’s search of the protocol listed below has detected infringements of Paramount’s copyright interests on your IP addresses as detailed in the attached report…
Then at the end of the email, you’ll even see the name of the file that you were allegedly sharing.
An example of an online “notice” can be seen here.
If you received a takedown notice:
It is highly recommended to NOT RESPOND to this e-letter, and not to click on the links within it. If you do, you’ll be asked questions regarding whether or not you deleted the offending material. This, in itself, is admitting guilt and could increase your chances of even further pursuance. Just like how you should never email back a spammer or click on the “take me off the list” link in spam, the same applies here - don’t let them know you’re a “live” one.
The MPAA/RIAA BitTorrent connection
It can be safely said there’s little speculation that the MPAA deploys ‘decoy’ torrents - used to gather data and IP addresses from others who share the same files on the tracker. The above DMCA notice was caused specifically by downloading from BitTorrent, not by any other method of P2P file sharing (let us just say we have a ‘personal’ connection to this exact takedown notice). So how else could BayTSP have known? And with what precision as to pin down the exact file (torrent) being downloaded! This notice was generated, sent and received all before the torrent had finished downloading the files. So to anyone who has checked their email and witnessed a similar message, there is no conjecture whatsoever.
Evette Mada Says:
Great Blog! We have a similar site, and find a lot of spam. Can you face such problems? Can you please recommend some steps I decide on combat spam. Thanks.