back to article TorrentSpy filters pirated videos

As TorrentSpy continues to fight a lawsuit by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), founders of the popular video download site have announced a new filtering system that allows content owners to remove pirated material from the site’s search results. The new filtering system, known as FileRights, automatically …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is easily circumvented...

    ... by putting the video or audio file in a zip/rar container with a text file, such as the infamous "demonoid.txt" file that comes with so many torrents. Change just one character in this text file and the torrent hash changes. Pirates will simply upload a dozen versions of each movies with a slightly different text file with each, and the overhead from tracking and storing all that hash data will quickly become unsustainable.

  2. De Zeurkous

    RE: This is easily circumvented...

    Or take the reverse approach: all run a script which will one by one nominate every torrent in the database for immediate deletion >:P

  3. Robert

    give it up

    The millions of dollars a year companies lose to pirated copyrighted material is nothing compared to the money they'll have to spend on futile efforts to thwart it. They'll never stop sharing, and they'll never recoup the money lost trying to stop it. They should just give it up and live with it. Relatively few people share the stuff, and most of us (oops, I mean "them") wouldn't pay for their stupid crap otherwise. Take down torrentspy and another will pop up to take its place.

  4. Levi

    Changing the hash

    "Change just one character in this text file and the torrent hash changes."

    ... and so does the usefulness of the Bittorrent protocol. Instead of downloading the same movie from 1000 other people at once, users have to choose which variant to download, each one of which only 10 other peers have.

  5. Mectron

    Jail the real criminal

    The MPAA.

  6. Alex Barlow

    A good idea

    *Rant Ahead* :)

    Sorry to spoil the party here. But as a former user of TorrentSpy and BitTorrent I think that it is good that copyright controls are being placed on these sites. Any arguments in favour of breaking the law seem fairly null. If you don't think that what you are downloading is worth paying for then why download it?

    If you want to watch lots of films then why not just get a video rental service? If you want to listen to lots of music. Why not use Napster or web radio, or even normal radio. Such things are cheap, and radio is free. Then again Napster is another touchy subject isn't it? 'Its our right to decrypt the DRM so we can keep it forever because this is fair use'. No it isn't! They told you the restrictions in advance, so if you didn't accept the terms!

    *End Of Rant*

    On the other hand I do strongly disagree with the copy protection on CDs and DVDs which are designed to stop you putting films on a private streaming server or copying a CD into your music library.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Changing the hash

    "... and so does the usefulness of the Bittorrent protocol. Instead of downloading the same movie from 1000 other people at once, users have to choose which variant to download, each one of which only 10 other peers have."

    not so, what he means is that the hash that this database will be looking for will no longer exist, so the torrent will be there, with the movie file intact ready to be downloaded but will avoid the deletion by this method by appearing to be a totally different torrent. You will only download the new torrent, as the original will have been deleted.

    I can't see this really being a good use of money by anyone, the MPAA shoudl just give up and admit that their industry is overpriced and entertainment should not be the source of criminal activity, why don't they conecntrate on something important like the millions of people worldwide who don't have enough to eat. Who cares if some fat cat allegedly 'lost' millions because nobody bought a film - the film was probably crap anyway.

  8. Sean O'Connor

    Great idea

    This is a great idea and I'm signing up for it straight away. I've spent over 10 years developing my Windows games independently and it's my only source of income for my family.

    If you don't like my games then just don't buy them. I can't understand why some people think it's OK to take something for free because in their opinion it's too expensive.

    Perhaps you'd like to come round to my house and explain to my daughter how we could have gone on holiday this summer if the people who "shared" my games had bought instead? Yeah, maybe that's a bit of a sob story but it would be nice if the stupid people who keep whining on about industry "fat cats" etc... would realise that there are thousands of small independent authors out here too who are struggling to make a living from selling software.

  9. Chris Ovenden

    Interesting Strategy...

    Expect the Pirate Bay's stats to take a jump

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    rubbish films

    > Who cares if some fat cat allegedly 'lost' millions because nobody bought a film - the film was probably crap anyway.

    The only flaw in this argument is that the most popular shared files are the most popular films.

    Apart from that I am tired of the "lost sale" numbers being used to scaremonger everybody (music, films, software). I can't be the only one who thinks that most people hearing that mega-billions are lost every year to piracy would be far more likely to think that they should join in the free-for-all rather than feel sorry for the large media producers and continue to abstain from illegal content. To solve that problem the producers would have to engender sympathy with customers -- instead of the mass alienation threatening tactics that they currently use.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Great Idea

    "Perhaps you'd like to come round to my house and explain to my daughter how we could have gone on holiday this summer if the people who "shared" my games had bought instead?"

    I'd rather explain how if the price you ask for a product is higher than the percieved value to the customer then they will not buy it.

    Or maybe I could explain to her the fact that 1 pirated copy != 1 lost sale.

  12. conan

    Great idea...

    I disagree with Sean's point above. I've donated money (Note: DONATED, not paid for a service, but given freely) to a range of independent software companies whose products I have used and have found to be very good. Many of these products I use a few times a year, and so would not shell out the cash to buy the product if it was commercial. I donate a small amount to reflect my appreciation of the software and the small amount I use it. Many of the authors of this software expect me to download it for free, and ask me to donate if I like it.

    If I had to pay full whack for all these pieces of software, I simply wouldn't use them. That means I wouldn't recommend them to my friends, and wouldn't evaluate them for use at work (for 4000+ employees). The problem is in the payment structures - I don't want to buy a Transit van, but I might rent one for a day when I need it. I doubt Sean offers me the chance to rent his software on an hourly rate.

    There are issues with other media too. I tend to download TV series (often cartoons) which aren't for sale - they were shown in a different country and can't be bought on DVD. The music I download is often only available on vinyl, which doesn't work on my iPod (and I don't have the time or patience to copy it myself). There are plenty of movies that aren't in my local Blockbuster, and I can download them quicker than the postal service will deliver them - and there's no comprehensive online subscription service I can use.

    I'm not justifying breach of copyright here, I'm just giving some reasons why I use BitTorrent - to circumvent the limitations the author's can't be bothered to address.

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Dillon Pyron

    wouldn't "mind" seeing

    So, they're good enough to watch, but not good enough to pay for. Isn't that what piracy is all about. You denied someone the revenue of a purchase or rental. A DVR is a different beast altogether. You've paid for the show, regardless of when you watch it.

    It's the crap movies and music that I don't pay for. I don't watch it, either. That's where the pigopolists are losing their money. Movies that only last a week or two (The Hulk) and CDs that never leave the shelves. If you are downloading those, then you are both a pirate and a fool.

  15. Morely Dotes

    Lies, lies, and damned falsified statistics

    @ Robert: "The millions of dollars a year companies lose to pirated copyrighted material" don't exist, at least not losses to users sharing files. Those people were never going to buy the DVDs or CDs anyway (or, for those who might, they are going to go do that *in addition* to downloading the files; sharing is used by that sort of people as a "sampling" service, to help them decide which to buy and which to ignore).

    The only *real* losses sustained are due to high-volume disk-duplication operations, selling pirated knock-offs of the "real" DVDs/CDs (usually in the Far East). It is arguable whether the losses in this case are the retail price of the number of disks sold (had they been legitimate), or the actual amount spent by consumers on knock-offs. I'd vote towards the latter.

  16. Morely Dotes

    A very, very BAD idea

    @ Alex Barlow: "They told you the restrictions in advance"

    Really? Such as the Sony/BMG rootkit which was "announced" so loudly in advance of Sony publishing millions of CDs that infected computers with malicious software?

    FACT: The RIAA and MPAA exist for the sole purpose of *preventing* consumers from exercising their rights under copyright law. They may have once served other purposes, but that's all in the past now.

  17. Craig Collier

    RE: Bittorrent

    Yup - you're right, thats exactly what i use Bittorrent for, some shows are just not on british TV. Things like 24, south park, Trailer Park Boys, Sopranos, all shows that will get here eventually, but will involve me getting sky, just to watch them, and i am not doing that, as the guy above me says, downloading is often quicker and easier than going to the shop, dealing with the PFY behind the counter and then driving home - compared to choosing a few films, downloading them, watching them, then deleting them. Music is slightly different, i spend an absolute fortune on vinyl, but i will never pay for an MP3 that means i can't play it more then a few times, or forces me to use JobsTunes (sorry - iTunes) instead of whatever player I want to use, no chance. I download copies of tracks i've bought using soulseek or bittorrent, because they come unprotected, and i can put them on my laptop, my phone, my desktop and also the file server in the living room. DRM woudl prevent me from actually doing this with music that i've actually paid for. WTF?

    Like above, i'm not providing excuses for downloading copied music, but i am trying to show why people do it, because the alternative is actually more difficult and prohibitive than breaking the law.

  18. Graham Marsden


    A few weeks ago I used a Torrent system to download an episode of the excellent TV show Heroes.


    Because my Sky+ Box crashed and I lost the recording and couldn't pick up another one off Sci-Fi channel and I didn't want to miss a bit of a great show.

    Ironically, I could have downloaded a copy of the episode that I missed from the Producers' website, but *ONLY* if I lived in the USA!

    Gosh thanks...

  19. Sean O'Connor

    re: Great idea...

    "The problem is in the payment structures - I don't want to buy a Transit van, but I might rent one for a day when I need it. I doubt Sean offers me the chance to rent his software on an hourly rate."

    But it isn't up to you how I charge for my work, it's up to me. If you don't like how I do it then like I say, just don't buy my games.

    Using your analogy, could you walk to a Ford dealerships and say "I want to rent a van!" and when they say "no sir, we sell vans we don't rent them" you could just get in the van and drive off screaming "but that's what I want, that's what I want, waaa! waaa!"

    How can you not see that it is up to us as the seller to decide our price and how we sell something and it is up to you the customer if you choose to buy or not?

  20. Sam O'kell

    Just Forget about it

    All their efforts are a waste of time and money. If man can make it, man can circumvent it. What's the point anyway you only have to look at the new approach taken by artists in the music industry, as a reply to the depletion of their earnings by illegal file sharing. Namely the fresh new stars making melodious waves realise they need to protect their income. They can't do that by sitting in studios making lacklustre recordings (take note Mr Williams and the like), no out on the road gigging, is how the best will make the top dollar in the coming few decades. Grafting at the coalface.

    Whatever victories you win in courts will be hollow. If you really want to beat the pirates, put your money where your mouth is. Stop turning out the repetitive dirge you are at the moment and fight back. Not in the courts in the cinemas wow us with your true talents. Stop making the legal firms richer (they are truly the blight on our fair planet). Find the next Kubrick, Scorsese or even Jackson. Say to the pirates "try get people to watch this on a shitty out focus CAM release, the only place people will want to see this epic, is on 35mm Splendour". That's how you deal with file sharing you ignorant fools.

  21. mrmagoo

    my 2 cents

    There are a lot of valid opinions here so here's my take.

    If i have downloaded a TV show

    1. It's not shown in my country, it may be shown a year from now but it might not. I could wait for it but lets face it if it's available to me now and i want to see it then i will, if you want my money for seeing the show then make it available to me at the same time as people in other countries are telling me how cool it is or stop crying.

    2. It will never be shown in my country unless i help spread the word. These are generally foreign shows like Japanese anime. If "fansubbers" had not illegally made Nartuo releases for thousands like me then the American networks would never have realised it's popularity and licensed it for themselves. So we helped make the creators money. Should i feel bad about downloading that?

    If i have downloaded a film

    Well i don't as a general rule. 95% of movies now are remakes or just utter rubbish that i wouldn't waste bandwidth on let alone hard currency. I do see the odd gem at the cinema but so far this year that has only been the movie 300 and i doubt anything after Transformers (hey, i grew up with these guys) will tempt me. Again i do download the odd foreign film that won't come out over here but as a general rule i have sat through far too much pap over the years to be taken in by "this weeks hit movie" reviews and marketing pitches.

    If i have downloaded music

    It's a new single/album and i want to hear a bit of it before i spend money on it. Given that music has been price fixed for something like 10 years i don't feel too bad about this. In a similar way to films 95% of what i can find in my local music store is manufactured rubbish that is horribly overpriced, a movie on dvd costs far more to produce than an album and yet they are pretty much the same price (in the UK) which proves price fixing to me. I will generally download, listen and if i like i head to the shop (don't pay and they won't make more) and if i don't then it gets deleted. If the price of music reflected it's value then i would be much more willing to impulse buy music like i did years ago when i could get a single for £3 (~£8 now is not price fixing for a single???). If i could buy the music i like directly from the artists and knew that ALL the profit went to them rather than the record labels i would be more tempted too.

    If i have downloaded software

    Generally again it's to trial without limitations. I do pay for software i like and use though, again if you don't pay them they won't make more or improve it.

    If i have downloaded a game

    Again, i have played FPS games, racing games and MMOs and the genres have been done to death so i don't really download games. The "console generation" seems to have killed anything outside these 3 genres presumably because games where you have to figure stuff out is no fun for them and therefore games companies pander to where the biggest profit is. I mostly download old adventure games that require a little grey matter and can't be bought anymore, though i bough every Myst game that came out (i actually have 3 copies of Myst 1 as i kept losing them and finding them again) and most of the other games i like. I could download any PSP game i want but i don't, i buy them and copy them to my memstick so i don't need to carry 30 discs around with me (which sony doesn't like, yet i bought the damn game!).

    Big vs small

    This one is aimed directly at Sean O'Connor and similar folk. If i like something (even a little bit) by a small author like yourself then it gets bought. Small independent authors are the few that are still willing to do things for the love of doing it rather than "fps games are big profit earners, lets make another" type companies. I will be honest and admit i have no problems cheating Microsoft out of a few pennies but smaller companies or individuals definitely fall into my "don't pay and they won't make more" category as they can't afford to soak up the losses. I may be contradictory but i believe in putting the money into the hands of people who make things i like, not into the hands of a company that has sold me 4 FPS games in the last 3 months and now wants to sell me another which is hardly any different to the last 4 just so they can keep their share price up. I will willingly part with my cash for lovingly created "art", but not to drive a business model based around flogging the same product to me again and again with a different badge.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: Just Forget about it

    ".......thats how you deal with file sharing you ignronat fools."

    Actually, that statement seems kind of ignornat in itself.

    The inclusive way to deal with media piracy is to log the downloads (annonymously) at the ISP and license the ISP service so your increased connection fee will cover any roayalties(just like for the BBC). I am convinced this will happen eventually in the UK/EU.

    All that say DRM is eventually circumventable are correct so legeslation to pay royalties through the ISP is the only way for the 'Fat Cats' and Artists to achieve any sort of renumeration for so called 'lost sales'. ISPs will hate this legislation but will eventually work a profit into it also.

    There are also 'embedded advertising' schemes such as a recent one that Peter Gabrial is endorsing to make audio downloading free. Games developers are now also embedding advertising into game content, but for now it is purely to make more revenue for themselves!

    I have no Idea how anyone is ever going to tackle application piracy without containing 'phone home' elements which can often be counter productive (not to mention closure threatening) for for small companies when connections are lost/down.

  23. Mike VandeVelde

    copyright is dead

    Copyright served a function for the last several centuries, when it cost something to make physical copies. Still does, and stealing them *is* a crime. Now we have electronic copies, and they are free. You can't steal them, you can only make another copy. Artists are going to have to go back to the business model that existed before copyright:

    Musicians - have to play music. And keep playing. If they don't play, they don't get paid. Playing once and then getting paid for it forever - that's over.

    Actors - have to act. And keep acting. If they don't act, they don't get paid. Acting once and then getting paid for it forever - that's over.

    Storytellers - have to tell stories. And keep telling stories. If they don't tell stories, they don't get paid. Telling one story once and then getting paid for it forever - that's over.

    Doctors - have to heal people. <sarcasm>Why should they invent a new surgical procedure and then just "share" it with the world? Who would invent new surgical procedures in an environment like that?? where is the motivation???</sarcasm> The neat trick is: people would still create art even if you punished them for it. The argument that nobody would create art if they couldn't sit back and collect money from everyone who ever becomes aware of it in any way - it stuns me that line of reasoning has any legs with anyone.

    That's pretty much it. If you're a one man software shop, then you are the valuable item. You wrote the game, so you will be able to come up with the best sequels and expansion packs and whatnot. The game itself isn't worth anything, who cares how many copies are out there, the more there are then the more valuable you are. If everyone plays your game, then you're the world famous expert at expanding it, and I would love to have a deal with you for exclusive first release rights on my website. Sure it will spread like wildfire and you'll be able to get it anywhere, but why would anyone mess around when everyone knows where it will come from.

    Recordings are really just a promotional tool. It's a twisted view to see them as the valuable item. The artist is the valuable item. I don't want a recording of a song, I want to be there when the artist performs the song. I'll take a recording though since the artist won't live at my beck and call :-(

    Labels have a place as aggregators. The sooner they learn that the better chance they have of surviving. I'd like a place that can tell what I'm into and feed me stuff I like, I'd even pay a subscription for that - even if all the actual material was freely available everywhere. And actual official physical media can still be valuable. Trademark should still apply so that you can tell if you are getting the real thing or not. I should still be able to buy a CD (and still do, but almost exclusively directly from independent artists). But that's not the only way to do it anymore, so artificially pumped up prices aren't going to cut it in the marketplace. Make them reasonable and collectors will still want them. But that will never have the scale it used to.

    Copyright was a temporary arrangement made necessary by the limitations of technology. That age is coming to an end. Adapt or die. :-)

  24. Sam O'kell

    You didn't say why my statement was IGNORNAT friend. Sorry to point that out.

    IGN-ronat and he copied it directly well there's a turn up for the books, and no mistake. I didn't think that one, would sidle past media savvy censors amongst you so easily. The word is actually ignorant, see what I did with the letter switching, oh aren't I clever, no, oh well that's my cross to bear and I’ll just have to live with it.

    In my opinion which I think is measured in my own sphere of society my comments are not ignorant. I agree with Mr. Magoo on most points. I have no stance on downloaded software (I don't play games except pro evo and EA cricket two wonderful games which seem too crash in price a few weeks after their respective PC releases while holding their value on all console formats, if that ain't a conspiracy I don't know what is) and my grammar and spelling are fine for my needs, so I survive admirably with Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird. However my position on humanity is that strangely we seem to perform best when backed into a seemingly unwinnable position. When we are in that state personally I believe the best option is to adapt and change not to try and swim against an overwhelming tide of opposition. So we come again to films and music. Look at it this way people are going to find a way to file share whether the industry likes it or not. So short of making it punishable by death or something close, or sending law enforcement officers into every home to physically prevent it. The best way to fight the issue is to develop a new strategy, rather than fill the coffers of an already bloated legal system. Work round it, do what the film industry did at its inception. Wow us, create desire that can't be fulfilled with a pirate copy. You did it once less than a hundred years ago. Surely the ideas haven't dried up so soon, Instead of running to the legal armour, wield the foil of innovation.

    Oh and on the position of Mr Gabriel, I think his day is done. I can’t see a much greater fan base growing in the near future. So unless artists follow his example I fear his efforts could largely go unnoticed. Maybe we are heading for the days of all inclusive ISP’s who knows, if I could predict the future I sure wouldn’t be typing this. Maybe we are on the same path as Rex Mundi in Robert Rankin’s Armageddon trilogy. I for one have greater hopes for us all.

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