MPAA Uses P2P Data in Piracy Lawsuits

Gretchen Gallen
LOS ANGELES – In its continued effort to wipe out file sharers who trade copyrighted movies – or at least send a sobering message to the online community – the Motion Picture Association of America is using data culled from BitTorrent hubs to track the identities of copyright infringers.

The MPAA filed 286 lawsuits Thursday based on the server logs from P2P sites like LokiTorrent and SuprNova, in addition to other BitTorrent offspring that were popularly used to download and share illegally pirated movies at faster rates than other P2P networks.

The MPAA said, but would not confirm in the case of this week’s slew of lawsuits, that when those sites were shut down in December, a Texas court was ordered to hand over all server data to file-sharing investigators.

The case against LokiTorrent marked the movie industry’s first pursuit of BitTorrent-related index sites and was filed by Columbia Pictures, Disney Enterprises and Twentieth Century Fox, with a federal lawsuit filed against the owners of

Other entertainment companies had already successfully shut down large file-sharing indexes like BitTorrent site Surpnova and Ed2k sites ShareReactor and ShareConnector, typically through the consent of the sites’ owners.

In its lawsuit against LokiTorrent, the movie studios alleged that it was “aiding and abetting the pirating of major industry movies” and asked for $150,000 per infringement and attorney fees.

By July, many BitTorrent hubs like LokiTorrent shut themselves down, in some cases explaining to users that they had taken such action to avoid costly legal battles with copyright holders.

Created in 2001 by Bram Cohen, the BitTorrent system speeds file transfers by segmenting the content and downloading parts from multiple users according to who offers the fattest pipes to a machine. The idea is to ensure a more even sharing of bandwidth between participants.

In accordance with an earlier federal appeals court decision that confined the MPAA's search for user identification to their URLs, the flurry of lawsuits were filed against "John Doe" defendants. As the cases proceed, the MPAA will be able to discover the user's identity and contact information through the court system.