In a bit of an ironic – or perhaps humourous – twist, the Motion Picture Association of America (affectionally known as the MPAA) has been accused of hacking into the computers of Valence Media’s TorrentSpy. According to TorrentSpy the MPAA did this by hiring Robert Anderson, an ex TorrentSpy employee, and a statement by Robert Anderson backs up this accusation.
And not just a tiny accusation – a full-blown lawsuit accusation.
For those of you not aware of why this is ironic, well, the MPAA has taken a particularly hard-nosed stance against illegal Internet activities, namely, of course, the downloading of commercial movies. Where, for example, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) at least for the most part went after people they claimed (where “claimed” is the operative word here) had downloaded dozens or hundreds of songs, the MPAA made a point of going after people who had downloaded even just one movie, ever. As we explained early on, “[t]he odds are pretty good that if somebody has only ever downloaded one movie, a) they did it for their own personal use rather than to traffic in pirated movies, or they did it to experiment (in which case they probably didn’t even inhale), b) they probably discovered that for the time it takes to download a movie, they could drive to Blockbuster, rent the movie, take it home, watch it, and return it, all before the download was done, c) given â€˜a’ and â€˜b’, if they’ve only done it once, and it wasn’t recently, they probably aren’t going to do it again, and d) the odds of the MPAA actually recouping their cost of the lawsuit from the type of individual likely to download one movie seems slim.”
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In any event, now the MPAA is being accused of hacking into the computer system of TorrentSpy.com, a Bit Torrent site which the MPAA sued a couple of months ago. The suit, filed by TorrentSpy’s parent company, Valence Media, alleges that “the Motion Picture Association of America hired someone to obtain the information by any means necessary, and knowing that this information was illegally obtained, the Motion Picture Association paid thousands of dollars for it, used it, and continues to use it, in a mistaken and misdirected vendetta against Plaintiffs.”
The suit goes on to allege that the MPAA contacted the hacker, identified at first only as “the informant” in the lawsuit, discussed with him the information they were seeking, and told him “We don’t care how you get it.”
The informant, alleged to be a “former associate” of TorrentSpy, then hacked into the TorrentSpy computers, and delivered to the MPAA financial files, email containing confidential information and passwords, and client bills and data, to the MPAA. Information which, according to the lawsuit, the MPAA told the informant was “very useful.”
This week, it was revealed that the “former associate” was Robert Anderson.
Even given all of the above, the thing which perhaps seems oddest is that nowhere in the lawsuit does TorrentSpy name “the informant” by name. Why is this? Obviously, if it really happened, the MPAA knows who it is, and beyond that, given what the informant allegedly did, why would TorrentSpy want to protect him, unless he was setting the MPAA up all along.
It’s all very odd, and it will be interesting to see what comes out in this wash.
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