People are getting their media fix in a variety of ways these days. Some use our software to record or download for their personal use, others go to clearly illegal download sites, and some use BitTorrent. While downloading is the most convenient and fastest way to capture video or audio, it does have some inherent risks. And some unscrupulous people will try to take advantage.
Take the case of Prenda Law, documented by blogger Popehat and others here. (Read the link backwards for a good history.) In a nutshell, a few lawyers allegedly bought the rights to worthless adult movies, had them posted on BitTorrent, and then watched as other people used Torrent software to download them. They captured the IPs of the downloaders, and then subpoenaed the internet providers to get the name of the customers. Then they filed copyright actions against these alleged downloaders, in the hopes that they would settle rather than going to court to defend themselves from downloading porn. A pretty clever scheme.
This is starting to fall apart, as many bloggers and opposing lawyers claim the very same lawyers who were doing the suing also formed the company to buy the copyrights, and tried to hide this fact from the courts. Oh – and these guys apparently did some identify theft to make a CEO for these holding companies. One federal judge is particularly not amused, and has ordered all the parties to appear in his courtroom April 2. A lot of people are following this, as it’s pretty unusual for a judge to take these steps.
Nevertheless, I understand from reading articles about this that many people caught downloading have decided to pay up to $3000 instead of fighting this in court, which is the preferred outcome to begin with for these (alleged) schemers.
The moral – when you download something from a file download or torrent site, your IP address is available, and anyone motivated enough can find out who you are. Using products like ours – where the server logs look like normal use – is one way to protect yourself.