Feeds

Now Hollywood is chasing UK downloaders

And getting the wrong guy

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Exclusive Tiscali threatened to disconnect a customer for illegally downloading a TV show last week, after receiving a copyright infringement notice from a Hollywood studio. The only problem was the customer had quit the ISP months before the alleged transgression was made.

Euan MacLay had been a customer of Freedom2Surf (F2S) for two years until it was taken over by Tiscali as part of the Pipex acquisition last year. His past experience of the Italian buyer's customer service was poor, so as soon as his Freedom2Surf line was due to be migrated to Tiscali's budget network he decided to switch.

That was in early March this year, and Euan never expected to hear from Freedom2Surf again.

But he did. On 23 August Eaun received an email from abuse@pipex.net, accusing him of illegally downloading an episode of Stargate Atlantis - a sci-fi show he does not watch - via BitTorrent, a filesharing protocol he does not use. Most unlikely of all, the alleged infringement took place on 16 August, almost six months after he had quit F2S.

The email said:

We have received a complaint regarding an allegation of Copyright Infringement. We were supplied an IP address of the system that was sharing the alleged copyrighted material, which we traced to your PIPEX ADSL account... Failure to respond or further infringements will cause your account to be temporarily suspended,and could also result in your account being terminated.

We've reproduced the whole email on the second page of this article. The complaint was made by BayTSP, a well-known anti-piracy contractor (see also Digiprotect, Logistep), acting on behalf of Metro Goldwyn Mayer (MGM), the movie studio. It called on F2S to "immediately remove or block access to the infringing material".

On receiving the accusation, Euan's first thought was that it was a hoax or phishing attempt. But digging out details of his old F2S account revealed that the IP address fingered by BayTSP had indeed belonged to his line many months earlier and must have been reassigned. "I was absolutely shocked," Euan told El Reg. "How could they get something so basic so wrong?"

It seems Tiscali had not been updating the abuse system's list of IP number assignments since it took over. An F2S employee told Euan: "When I had a look at our systems it was clear that your account was closed on 03/03/08 and the IP that you were using was allocated to a new customer after that. Our systems clearly show this so I am not 100 per cent sure how the abuse team got your name associated to the IP."

A spokeswoman for Tiscali told El Reg:

Freedom2Surf apologises for this error. The email was generated by an automatic F2S abuse system managed externally. This system is no longer in place and has very recently been brought in house as part of the integration of Pipex's platforms with Tiscali.

BayTSP uses similar methods for identifying alleged download pirates to those being deployed by the BPI on behalf of the UK record industy, and by the law firm Davenport Lyons on behalf of a group of videogame publishers. They simply monitor public BitTorrent networks and log the files being shared, an IP number, and timestamp. A reverse DNS lookup can then identify the ISP providing the connection and an infringment notice generated.

The process has been automated as rights holders bid to turn the tide of illegal filesharing, and lawyers aim to create a new market in internet copyright enforcement against individuals. Davenport Lyons has boasted it will use IP addresses to obtain the names and addresses of 25,000 UK broadband users via court order. Rather than send an infringement notice to the ISP, Davenport Lyons' targets will get a letter direct, demanding £300 to avoid being taken to court.

For Euan, that the allegations against him were baseless was obvious. However, the fact that such an elementary mistake has been made so early in the government-backed rearguard action against downloaders is concerning. Expect more of this, whether the errors are made at ISP level, or in the flawed (pdf) infringment identification process. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.