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Sloppy DirectConnect Hub Operator Sentenced

Postby SlyckTom » Thu Oct 20, 2005 4:15 pm

DirectConnect is often associated with the catch phrase “Dark Net.” These so-called “Dark-Nets” are supposedly so far underground they make the KTB hole seem shallow. And this very well may be the case. However, certain P2P and file-sharing networks have been directly associated with this “Dark Net” terminology, simply because it has become fashionable to do so.

One network that has received this distinction is the DirectConnect P2P network. In many circumstances it is true many underground sub-communities exist. They simply do not allow outsiders to penetrate their sub-network. Under these conditions, only small groups of trusted individuals share information.

While it’s true that DirectConnect is better known for its “Dark Net” association, there is a sizable portion of the network that is publicly available. Such was the case for UTB Smokinghouse.

UTB Smokinghouse wasn’t a hickory wood BBQ joint, but a public DirectConnect hub. Run by Jed Cobles, the hub was a hotspot for various types of files, including the latest Hollywood movies, music videos and TV shows. The hub did not actually host any of these files, however acted at a centralized meeting place that allowed likeminded individuals to trade such files.

According to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s public relations office, Jed Cobles was literally caught red handed as he was downloading “Leisure Suit Larry” when the arrest warrant was executed.

Like many past digital piracy busts, months – if not years - of investigative work brought the downfall of this network, right? Antipiratbyrån’s anti-piracy efforts against Swedish ISP Bahnhof (albeit failed) required at least of year of planning, not to mention the implantation of a mole.

Surely the Southern California High Tech Task Force, the team leading the investigation, needed a prolonged period of time to build trust with UTB Smokinghouse before allowed entry, right?

Not at all.

“All the investigator needed to do was show content, and then asked to gain entry.” Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey McGrath told Slyck.com. After showing the content, the investigator was allowed entry, no questions asked.

This lack of security has been the downfall of additional high profile DirectConnect hub shut downs. Bear in mind however, no truly “Dark Net” has been successfully prosecuted.

Mr. Jed Kobles was however, and will serve a 180 day suspended sentence. Luckily for him, the judge dropped the felony charges and reduced his crime to a mere misdemeanor. In addition, Mr. Kobles can only use a computer for “legitimate” purposes. In exchange for creating an anti-piracy public service announcement for the MPAA, Mr. Kobles will not have to serve probation.

Several co-conspirators also gained attention in the case, but Deputy District Attourney McGrath told Slyck that prosecution against these individuals is unlikely.

“Probably not,” McGrath said. “We’re not going to extradite some guy from Finland.”

In the end, sloppy security procedures spelled the end for UTB Smokinghouse. Regardless, it’s a public relations coup for the copyright industry that will parade this event as a great victory in the war against file-sharing.

Keep an eye open for Mr. Kobles public relations advertisement, coming to a theater near you.
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Re: Sloppy DirectConnect Hub Operator Sentenced

Postby LANjackal » Thu Oct 20, 2005 4:31 pm

SlyckTom wrote:Regardless, it’s a public relations coup for the copyright industry that will parade this event as a great victory in the war against file-sharing.


The largely witless "OMFG my computer blew up last week!"* mainstream media will see it as just that. The thinking technology media will observe that a poster child such as Kobles only serves to encourage myriads of alleged infringers to be more private about their online doings - thus worsening the apparent "problem".

* Yes, I admit that this statement of mine demonstrates the same superiority complex I had warned the tech community at large about in a previous post. I openly declare myself guilty of violating my own admonition. Ahem.
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Postby notbob » Thu Oct 20, 2005 4:33 pm

“All the investigator needed to do was show content, and then asked to gain entry.” Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey McGrath told Slyck.com. After showing the content, the investigator was allowed entry, no questions asked.


that's how a minimum share works in a public hub

this was just a public hub, and anyone stupid enough to run one of those deserves to be nailed to the wall. for some reason, everyone is assuming that smokinghouse was private--it wasn't. it even had a website and forum ( http://www.utbnet.com/Forum/viewforum.php?f=93 ) where users had no idea that kobles was busted

your article at least leans in the right direction, especially the title
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Postby SlyckTom » Thu Oct 20, 2005 4:41 pm

that's how a minimum share works in a public hub


Of course, but sometimes the obvious needs to be pointed out. Especially when other articles on this make it out to be something more spectacular than it really is.
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PR Spots

Postby devilwolf » Thu Oct 20, 2005 5:42 pm

I love those MPAA/RIAA PR spots in the theater...

You Won't Steal A Cell Phone..
Me to my g/f just loud enuff to carry.. <yes I would>
You won't steal a purse..
Me.. <Yeah, but Wyona Rider would!>
Buying bootleged DVD is theft..
Me.. <Why buy them when you can download them for free?>

I always get people giggling in the rows around me.

People like movies and music, but they hate the RecordCos and Movie Studios - not just for their pricing, but also their whole snotty attitude of the entertainment industry.

The entertainment industry doesn't obey the same laws that us "little people" have to. When we "little people" get busted for drugs, we go to jail, they go to rehab. We get caught DUI, we go to jail, they get rehab. We assault a police office, we get executed, they get a slap on the wrist. They get busted for shop lifting, they get probation, we get jail.
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Postby zbeast » Thu Oct 20, 2005 6:01 pm

I never use public DC hubs.
I dont like there requirements. 100gb plus.

You may as well install a copy of tprint
http://www.lancs.ac.uk/iss/support/treeprt.htm
and mail the printout to the authorities.

it's not to say I dont use it I do but only as a private network to a few friends.

sharing is carrying, being dumb is not fun.

He's going to have to do a PSA: Oh seash!

1) I use to download but now i'm drinking pepsis?
2) Just because your downloading things you'll never buy dosent mean your not hurting people?
3) Dont download drink Coke?
ah *Shrug*!
Last edited by zbeast on Fri Oct 21, 2005 6:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Califax » Thu Oct 20, 2005 6:03 pm

Good Artical... but I never associate any form of p2p with a dark net... to me darknets are FTP Servers used by release groups and their IRC Servers they use
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the problem with dark nets...

Postby devilwolf » Thu Oct 20, 2005 6:27 pm

Is that in any undergound community, the rule of thumb is generally that every third person is a potential informer.

P2p has the potential of becoming a revenue source for the govt (in US) where RICO and asset forfiture laws could be amended to allow the govt to seize p2p users property including real estate.

Don't laugh.. The DMCA would have sounded like a paraniod hallucination ten years ago. Both the Democrats and Republicans in the US are stauchly pro-business - and they appoint the judges who decide what is constitutional. the RIAA got close to making file sharing an act of terrorism after 9/11.
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Re: the problem with dark nets...

Postby notbob » Thu Oct 20, 2005 7:17 pm

devilwolf wrote:Is that in any undergound community, the rule of thumb is generally that every third person is a potential informer.

P2p has the potential of becoming a revenue source for the govt (in US) where RICO and asset forfiture laws could be amended to allow the govt to seize p2p users property including real estate.

Don't laugh.. The DMCA would have sounded like a paraniod hallucination ten years ago. Both the Democrats and Republicans in the US are stauchly pro-business - and they appoint the judges who decide what is constitutional. the RIAA got close to making file sharing an act of terrorism after 9/11.



everything you say is a paranoid delusion

if the internet is that scary to you, unplug it
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I'm just thinking the unthinkable....

Postby devilwolf » Thu Oct 20, 2005 7:39 pm

A few years ago it would have sounded paraniod to say that people would be investigated by the FBI for pointing out security flaws, or that programmers would be arrested for writing copy protecting breaking software, or a software DVD player.

People would have scoffed and said it was impossible that small level P2P users would be tracked down and sued a few years ago.

I don't find the internet scary, I'm just mapping the P2P battle onto the "war on drugs" model, and I feel that it is only a matter of time until the govt starts to borrow tactics from WoD and apply them to the WoFS.

Law enforcement is about QUANITY, not quality. A DA who can say.... "I prosecuted over 10,000 pirates" will get more media attention then a DA who works to take out one CD presser, and media attention means that a DA can make the jump from DA to elected offical or judge and be set for life.
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Postby Ynhockey » Thu Oct 20, 2005 7:45 pm

Yay :D a DirectConnect article. I was hoping for something about DC++ but hey, this is way better than anything on WinMX :) good read.
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Postby tm, » Fri Oct 21, 2005 1:03 am

It's the ultimate in stupidity for any major US-based public hub operator to be an active participant in warez downloading. As with running any P2P service, DC hub operators must take meticulous care to keep their hands absolutely clean.

What makes this case so absurd was that this guy was living within a stone's throw of Hollywood, yet apparently never considered himself within the danger zone.

At least that "guy from Finland" can breathe easy :D
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Postby cldnails » Fri Oct 21, 2005 11:30 am

In regards to the comments about the owner in question deserving to be caught and disciplined, or that he's stupid for doing it. Owning and operating any p2p site/hub is done out of a labor of love. Granted, there comes a point when there is some money made via ad revenues and donations. However, for a very long period of time a site can operate in the hole, not to mention the time invested.

Perhaps you should consider what is offered by these people who take risks, before you accuse. The so called 'elites' who are throwing these stones did not go straight into a private site or underground hub. Everyone had to start somewhere and if it weren't for these 'public' places you would never be where you are now.

Sorry for the rant, I just hate seeing owners of sites bashed for trying to do something for the community.
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Postby voodoohippie » Fri Oct 21, 2005 12:54 pm

Yes not to mention the fact the he or she would have to leave their computer on 24/7 just to act as a server. And even ES5 was made fun of when File Hoover and Share Pro both were dedicated to the community and the cause. I got lots of sites thanks to them and too bad I was too busy to get some dark nets from those guys before the death of ES5. I may have to try filetopia and see if any kewl people are there. I remember snobby people from WinMX kicking me off when I was a newbe in 2000 cuz I didn't have all the latest movies they wanted yet I was trying to build up a library of movies to share with the community. It was not easy as I was constantly kicked off b4 finally I had a new release everyone wanted and I logged down the selfish people that did this to me and to no surprise they were Dling the very movies they wanted forgetting what they did to me. I kicked them off and told them they had to pay me an access fee of $100 to access my movies for what they did to me. I also got their ip's so they could not get on with a new name. After they begged and pleaded I copied their beggs and pasted them into a doc file and shared them on WinMX and other places so the community could see who was self centered and who was not and when they wanted something they had to work for it extra hard. That is the way we deal with selfish people in the p2p relm.
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Postby notbob » Fri Oct 21, 2005 4:27 pm

cldnails wrote:In regards to the comments about the owner in question deserving to be caught and disciplined, or that he's stupid for doing it. Owning and operating any p2p site/hub is done out of a labor of love. Granted, there comes a point when there is some money made via ad revenues and donations. However, for a very long period of time a site can operate in the hole, not to mention the time invested.

Perhaps you should consider what is offered by these people who take risks, before you accuse. The so called 'elites' who are throwing these stones did not go straight into a private site or underground hub. Everyone had to start somewhere and if it weren't for these 'public' places you would never be where you are now.

Sorry for the rant, I just hate seeing owners of sites bashed for trying to do something for the community.


your first paragraph contradicts itself. which is it? for love or money? it can't be both. dc hubs don't make money, and if they do, i hope they get busted.

as for the "you have to start somewhere", it is true to a point, but there are social networks other than public hubs (ever hear of college campuses?)i also know people who scout winmx, soulseek, and filetopia for users. public hubs are far too dangerous to mess around with, not that anyone is making a decent hublist anymore to get to them anyway

why do public hub "owners" do it? there are no benefits--your computer has to run 24/7 or you get hundreds of angry emails from people you don't know, you update hardware and connection for these same people you don't know that don't pay for it, you spend hours and hours writing scripts to keep out fakers and banning people. then, if your hub gets busted, you take the rap, and everyone else moves on to the next hub in the list

wow, where do i sign up?
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Postby david33850 » Fri Oct 21, 2005 11:46 pm

I think you sign up at sourceforge.net or something like that.
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Postby notbob » Fri Oct 21, 2005 11:52 pm

david33850 wrote:I think you sign up at sourceforge.net or something like that.


can't read, can you?

it's o.k., it's a generational issue
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Postby david33850 » Fri Oct 21, 2005 11:58 pm

Nope, I just look at the pictures. A picture says a thousand words ya know.
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Postby DBG » Sat Oct 22, 2005 1:06 am

Personally, I never look at cases like these and say "oh this guy deserved it because he was greedy" or "his l33tness got to his head". When anyone is taken down in the P2P world it will normally come back to the general user either directly or indirectly (not so much the case with physical pirates, but there are lots of "what ifs?"). I don't like the idea of taking donations from the public, esp. when it comes to high profile sites/group/etc, where I'm sure a lot of that money gets taken back by the government if and when something goes down. I appreciate the work that so many people do, but my personal feeling is you shouldn't get into it if you cannot support it without a substantial loss to yourself. It's a good thing though that not everyone agrees with me, because there are a lot of P2P services running based on donations alone right now.

I got hooked on P2P back in the Napster days (aside from legal use of usenet and Prodigy's old message/file services), but have become disenchanted over the years. You will always find pockets of great people out there (I've hopped around a lot groups over the years; mostly BT and usenet in the last couple years), and the greedy noobish people are always to be expected, but with the constant hammer coming down from law enforcement you cannot be as free and trusting as you once could be (kind of like going from Woodstock '69 to Woodstock '99).

That was more of a rank that anything else I suppose. I don't want to return to the year where I was seriously involved with piracy on the topsite level (ugh too much work, but it was fun at the time, not that I'm promoting crime), nor do I really want to pour more of myself out there for the general public which I did for years and still do from time to time (btw, big props and love to Slyck for doing what I could never do). I would love to think there is a group out there for me where trade of ideas and material is free and flowing, but I think the chance of finding such a place online is slimming.
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Postby cldnails » Sat Oct 22, 2005 9:37 am

@notbob, there is no contradiction, I was merely expanding my scope of p2p to networks other than DC hubs. ie. bittorrent trackers, edonkey verification sites and the like.

No matter the cause, I refuse to believe that a person should be ridiculed for doing something for the community. After all, that is the soul for p2p, everyone does what they can. While it may not be what you do or agree with, anytime a member of our huge community gets busted, it's not a good thing.
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Postby Overnet User » Sun Oct 23, 2005 4:54 pm

Well one down, only 10,000 more or more than that probably exist. Its kind of like giving away a penny only to have millions left. It doesn't do any good to take one down. Its only for propaganda trying to get others not to start one. I say long live p2p and dc (++ for me) and all other file sharing apps that do not promote or require drm.
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Postby DBG » Sun Oct 23, 2005 10:13 pm

Overnet User wrote:Well one down, only 10,000 more or more than that probably exist. Its kind of like giving away a penny only to have millions left. It doesn't do any good to take one down. Its only for propaganda trying to get others not to start one. I say long live p2p and dc (++ for me) and all other file sharing apps that do not promote or require drm.


Well it might lead to the end if enough users are scared away. Of course DC++ groups will always live, and they are still the best way to get content at colleges between students (at least the ones I know about).
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