Will Anonymous cyber protests strike in the battle of pornographers vs. pirates?


Some law firms and porn studios are apparently unmoved by Anonymous' show of cyber protest force. Some companies that specialize in adult entertainment movies seem to be trying to turn piracy into profit with tactics that are little better than extortion. Porn studios that are pursuing copyright lawsuits are close to revealing pirates' identities.

Cnet reports that Third World Media (TWM) porn studio has filed a copyright lawsuit that accuses 1,568 people of illegally sharing TWM adult movies via P2P networks. 64 pages of IP addresses have been filed with the court, including all sizes of ISPs and national carriers like AT&T, SBC, Verizon, and Comcast to name a few. University service providers are also named, including ISPs for MIT, Dartmouth College, the University of Central Florida, the University of California at Riverside, and the Tennessee Board of Regents.

EFF's legal director Cindy Cohn told Cnet that this is the "kind of veiled threat that makes these lawsuits much more like a 'shakedown'... People have a very good interest in not being sued but also in not having their name associated here if they've been wrongly accused. The leverage to get people to pay to make it go away when what they are accused of having done, in cases of hard-core porn or gay porn, is much higher."

According to EFF's Field Guide to Copyright Trolls, the law firm U.S. Copyright Group (USCG) filed "John Doe" lawsuits which implicated over 14,000 people for allegedly illegally downloading independent movies like "Far Cry" and "The Hurt Locker." Lucas Entertainment, Mick Haig Productions and Larry Flynt Publications are suing users as "Does," based on their IP addresses. Then these groups are subpoenaing "the identities of people associated with those IP addresses. Unfortunately, many of those people, who are not comfortable being publicly identified in connection with pornography, will feel they have no choice but to settle rather than having their name publicly disclosed, no matter how meritorious their defenses."

It strikes me as odd that some porn industry film makers are morally outraged because their adult movies are being shared over peer-to-peer networks. These movies are the property of adult entertainment studios, and the copyright owners have a legal right to protect their works, but it seems the recent rash of suing alleged P2P porn downloaders amounts to using our tax dollars and the legal system to scare money out of those accused. Other adult entertainment companies like Private Media Group told Torrent Freak that "piracy is a good thing as it serves as a promotional tool."

At this rate, the collective power of angry anonymous people caught up in cyber protests may never end. Operation Payback is a Bitch, which began on September 17, has included DDoS attacks, hacks and defacements. Hacktivism is alive and well, and it's not being run by "angry teenagers" who dwell in "basements." It's also not about piracy. Panda Security has kept up with Operation Payback since it started. Yesterday, the following excerpt from Anonymous is part of what was published:

The piracy witch-hunt is not to stop piracy. It is not to secure the artist's income; it is just another business model allowing a group of lawyers to do what they do best: defend their statements with law. They found a way to make it legit to financially rape exploit children. And the entertainment industry associations even openly stated that they don't intend to share the money from this exploitation with the artists. Instead, they intend to use it to start even more lawsuits. This is the extreme opposite of what copyright was intended for. Judge and jury must be brought to understanding that the entertainment industries are not interested in stopping piracy, but exploiting it. This is what kills creativity. This is what discourages the real artists.... Operation Payback is the protest against these flawed laws, against the lobby that issued the laws in the first place.

As Torrentfreak said: "No lawyer, no injunction and no police force can stop these kind of attacks from happening and those carrying them out love the sense of power, the sense of payback they provide."

Does the adult film industry really wish to issue an invitation to hacktivists or do they just want their cut of turning porn piracy into profit? Where does it end? How many people will be wrongly accused and have to deal with the "stigma" of being labeled a porn pirate?

Cnet reported that in regards to the copyright lawsuits, EFF "has seen a high number of apparent false positives." Cohn added, "It does appear to us that whatever investigative techniques that [some copyright owners] are using are not very good." In another article, Cnet interviewed Cohn about the EFF fighting the copyright's underbelly and the plight of those who are wrongly accused. 

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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