Erroneous DMCA notices and copyright enforcement: the VPA, BitTorrent, and me

I recently posted an article on Ed Felten’s group blog, Freedom to Tinker, which covers both technical and policy-related I.T. issues. It describes some technical issues and my recent experience with DMCA enforcement agencies, BitTorrent, and CoralCDN. I think our readers would be interested in it as well, as well as join in the lively conversation among commenters.

In the past few weeks, Ed has been writing about targeted and inaccurate copyright enforcement. While it may be difficult to quantify the actual extent of inaccurate claims, we can at least try to understand whether copyright enforcement companies are making a “good faith” best effort to minimize any false positives. My short answer: not really.

Let’s start with a typical abuse letter that gets sent to a network provider (in this case, a university) from a “copyright enforcement” company such as the Video Protection Alliance.

The rest of the article can be found here.

  • I deal with copyright issues when I build my websites. People just love scraping content right when it gets posted with their bots. Really damn annoying. The only way I can seem to get around it is by filing claims to google. Gahh! But I love torrents :)

  • Omprakash Gnawali

    Considering the widespread deployment of NATs (wireless routers, …) at homes, it appears that the users are getting notices, technically, as a conspiring network operators rather than someone running these applications. If the user claims that no file sharing application was running on the IP (are IP's listed on these notices NAT IP?), that defense sounds similar to the defense you presented on your post. How is Corel's situation different from a home user who has a NAT box?

  • markschmidt

    Its worth pointing out that Video Protection Alliance uses an anti-piracy company called Nexicon http://www.nexiconinc.com to collect data. Some recent articles from Torrentfreak:

    http://torrentfreak.com/automated-legal-threats

    http://torrentfreak.com/tag/video-protection-al

    Looks like the founder/cto is this Tommy Stiansen guy:

    http://ww.nexiconinc.com/corpblog

  • Yes, IP and port addresses are listed in the complaint.

    In CoralCDN's particular case, we do have machine-wide flow logs about all traffic (from PlanetLab's logging), and no such IP:port address exists. But, one could argue that logs aren't tamper proof (if I were colluding with PlanetLab operators).

    This comes back to the question I raise: how I might “prove” I'm not running a file-sharing application? I'm not saying that such monitoring might not have some false positives. Given my own experience and knowledge of what happened in this case, however, I can assert that the technology that the VPA was using—which I've subsequently learned belongs to Nexicon—does little verification of IP:port pairs that it scrapes from BitTorrent trackers.

    This was my main point—that the current verification is insufficient and false positives are too easily turned up—not a proposal for verifying the accuracy of copyright complaints.

  • Yes, IP and port addresses are listed in the complaint.

    In CoralCDN's particular case, we do have machine-wide flow logs about all traffic (from PlanetLab's logging), and no such IP:port address exists. But, one could argue that logs aren't tamper proof (if I were colluding with PlanetLab operators).

    This comes back to the question I raise: how I might “prove” I'm not running a file-sharing application? I'm not saying that such monitoring might not have some false positives. Given my own experience and knowledge of what happened in this case, however, I can assert that the technology that the VPA was using—which I've subsequently learned belongs to Nexicon—does little verification of IP:port pairs that it scrapes from BitTorrent trackers.

    This was my main point—that the current verification is insufficient and false positives are too easily turned up—not a proposal for verifying the accuracy of copyright complaints.

  • Anonymous

    I believe 99% files on these files sharing site copyright violations. These all must be banned for the sake future of e-commerce.

    Pink
    classifieds

  • torrent

    Its worth pointing out that Video Protection Alliance uses an anti-piracy company called Nexicon to collect data.

    http://www.torrentdestek.net

  • Hi..The current verification is insufficient and false positives are
    too easily turned up—not a proposal for verifying the accuracy of
    copyright complaints.

  • Jeff Johnson

    There are so many issues with DMCA enforcement agencies and job they can and should do but are not doing. Of course, it can be difficult to assure that all content is secured under copyright but Essays Solutions do their best for customers to be sure of quality of its content.