BitTorrent Users Being Monitored En Masse For Copyright Infringement

By Joseph Mandour on September 4, 2012

pirate Los Angeles – A group of researchers on Tuesday revealed the massive extent to which users of the popular file-sharing protocol BitTorrent are monitored by copyright enforcement authorities, who they said register illegal downloads within hours of their occurrence, focusing almost exclusively on the most popular music and movies.

Tom Chothia, Marco Cova, Chris Novakovic and Camilo Gonzalez of the Toro School of Computer Science at the University of Birmingham in UK released their presentation paper detailing the monitoring at SecureComm 2012, the eighth International Conference on Security and Privacy in Communication Networks, in Padua, Italy.

In general, copyright holders can perform monitoring using either indirect monitoring, where indirect clues of the sharing activity of a peer are considered, and direct monitoring, which establishes connections with peers to estimate their participation in sharing activity.

It is no secret that BitTorrent networks are monitored by copyright holders for evidence of potentially infringing file-sharing activities. But while previous research has focused on indirect monitoring, the researchers claim their study provides the first ever measurements showing that direct monitoring is now occurring on a regular basis.

Direct monitoring in its current form, however, falls short of providing conclusive evidence of copyright infringement, according to the paper.

“One key aspect of BitTorrent monitoring is the precise set of techniques employed by enforcement agencies, which have never been disclosed publicly,” the paper says. “In fact, the companies involved appear keen to avoid having their evidence being examined in court.”

When looking at activity on the popular rogue torrent sharing service The Pirate Bay, the researchers only detected monitors in Top 100 torrents, implying that copyright enforcement agencies are monitoring only the most popular content on public trackers, with music and movie torrents the most heavily monitored, the paper says.

The study came out on the same day that Cambodian authorities announced that they plan to deport one of The Pirate Bay’s co-founders, Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, at the request of the Swedish government based on its copyright infringement case against him, according to the Associated Press. In 2009 Svartholm Warg was sentenced in his homeland of Sweden to a year in prison and millions of dollars in payments to major entertainment companies, the AP reported.

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