[funsec] The Inexact Science Behind DMCA Takedown Notices

Richard M. Smith rms at computerbytesman.com
Fri Jun 6 08:09:34 CDT 2008

June 5, 2008,  11:18 am 

The Inexact Science Behind DMCA Takedown Notices

By Brad  <http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/author/bstone/> Stone

A new  <http://dmca.cs.washington.edu/> study from the University of
Washington suggests that media industry trade groups are using flawed
tactics in their investigations of users who violate copyrights on
peer-to-peer file sharing networks.

Those trade groups, including the Motion Picture Association of America
(M.P.A.A.) Entertainment Software Association (E.S.A.) and Recording
Industry Association of America (R.I.A.A.), send universities and other
network operators an
<http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/2008/04/riaa-sends-spik.html> increasing
number of takedown notices each year, alleging that their intellectual
property rights have been violated under the Digital Millennium Copyright

Many universities pass those letters directly on to students without
questioning the veracity of the allegations. The R.I.A.A. in particular
follows up some of those notices by threatening legal action and forcing
alleged file-sharers into a financial settlement.

But the study, released Thursday by Tadayoshi Kohno
<http://www.cs.washington.edu/homes/yoshi/> , an assistant professor,
Michael Piatek <http://www.cs.washington.edu/homes/piatek/>  a graduate
student, and Arvind  <http://www.cs.washington.edu/homes/arvind>
Krishnamurthy, a research assistant professor, all at the University of
Washington, argues that perhaps those takedown notices should be viewed more

The paper finds that there is a serious flaw in how these trade groups
finger alleged file-sharers. It also suggests that some people might be
getting improperly accused of sharing copyrighted content, and could even be
purposely framed by other users.

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

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.


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