Researchers at the University of Washington have discovered serious flaws in the way that the copyright cartel's enforcers detect and complain about copyright infringement. The methods used by these enforcers are so sloppy that they sent a DMCA takedown notice to three campus laser-printers, alleging that the inanimate objects were downloading Iron Man and Indiana Jones.
And yet these companies expect universities to take their notices seriously and spend their operating capital chasing down every wild accusation they make.
In two separate studies in August of 2007 and May of this year, the researchers set out to examine who was participating in BitTorrent file-sharing networks and what they were sharing. The researchers introduced software agents into these networks to monitor their traffic. Even though those software agents did not download any files, the researchers say they received over 400 take-down requests accusing them of participating in the downloads.
The researchers concluded that enforcement agencies are looking only at I.P. addresses of participants on these peer-to-peer networks, and not what files are actually downloaded or uploaded–a more resource-intensive process that would nevertheless yield more conclusive information.
In their report, the researchers also demonstrate a way to manipulate I.P. addresses so that another user appears responsible for the file-sharing.
An inanimate object could also get the blame. The researchers rigged the software agents to implicate three laserjet printers, which were then accused in takedown letters by the M.P.A.A. of downloading copies of “Iron Man” and the latest Indiana Jones film.
My latest Locus Magazine column is DRM Broke Its Promise, which recalls the days when digital rights management was pitched to us as a way to enable exciting new markets where we'd all save big by only buying the rights we needed (like the low-cost right to read a book for an hour-long plane ride), […]
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