TorrentFreak are running a story about the means and methods used to track filesharers on P2P networks. The firm responsible for finding those sharing copyrighted works, Logistep AG, are using a piece of software called File Sharing Monitor.
File Sharing Monitor (FSM) is a modified Shareaza client that takes the following steps to identify alleged infringers:
- The client connects to the P2P network, searches for sources of the infringing file, and collects the IP addresses that were gathered through the search.
- The client requests to download (a piece of) the file from the host that was found through the search.
- The filename, file size, IP-address, P2P protocol, P2P application, time, and the username are automatically inserted into a database, if the host permits the download.
- This is the â€œbestâ€ part. The application does a WHOIS search for the ISP information and automatically sends an infringement letter to the ISP if needed.
I see a couple of problems with this. Firstly, the client only downloads a single chunk from you, so they can’t be sure if the person is sharing a real copy. This is presuming the modified client goes looking for files based on name, for example, though they might be sure if they had a full hashset for a file. Perhaps TF have simplified the process somewhat, but from those steps it looks like the download is only requested, so hashing wouldn’t be possible.
The last step is the part I have a problem with – the automated part of the process. So they automatically send a letter of infringement to the ISP without being sure the person that had the IP was sharing? What if the file was a fake? What if they were running an open wireless network (like a few folk in my apartment building)? I’m not too comfortable with the idea of “automated lawsuits” either.
The TF article says “The claim is that the â€œFile Sharing Monitorâ€ is totally foolproof and that it can provide forensic-quality information to a court in order that file-sharers be punished.”. I doubt that FSM provides “forensic-quality” evidence. And does the phrase “totally foolproof” even need comment?