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Life after Death
February 27, 2006
Thomas Mennecke
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It was either the week from Hell, or just another entertaining week depending on your file-sharing perspective. The MPAA’s (Motion Picture Association of America) war against online unauthorized file-sharing was kicked into high gear, netting the capture of Razorback2; along with several other major online indexing sites.

From a public relation’s standpoint, the MPAA’s online war has been significantly more effective than the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America.) When the MPAA wishes to be heard, there’s little doubt their message is being delivered. The MPAA uses surgical strikes against file-sharing related entities; specifically targeting those that will yield the most attention.

Razorback2 is a prime example of using specific targeting, which in turn generating a frenzy of attention. This eDonkey2000 indexing server was utilized by over 1 million individuals – many of which went from sharing and caring to panic-stricken in the course of several hours. Anything that affects such a large number of individuals is bound to catch mainstream attention – although accurate depictions of the event were generally rare.

Two days later the MPAA struck once again, this time hitting several indexing sites. Their targets included ISOHunt, TorrentSpy, ed2k-it.com, NZB-Zone.com, BinNews.com, and DVDRs.net. These popular targets elevated an already heightened public relations blitz, especially considering the MPAA’s decision to target Newsgroup indexing sites.

The MPAA’s approach to online piracy is multifaceted, as opposed to the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America.) One of the MPAA’s goals is to raise awareness, which judging by last week’s activities was accomplished. Although the MPAA does initiate legal enforcement actions against individual file-shares, it does so with considerably less frequency than the RIAA. The RIAA prefers a less structured approach, whereby it targets between 700-800 alleged infringers per month.

There’s little doubt the MPAA’s approach has been many times more successful – at least when it comes to grabbing attention. Few mainstream media outlets ignored the MPAA’s enforcement actions last week. Conversely, the RIAA’s enforcement campaigns, which equal to approximately one per month, have fallen largely on deaf ears. With nameless and faceless individuals targeted, the RIAA’s lawsuit campaign has fallen off the media’s radar.

The significance to this is considerable. With little public attention surrounding the RIAA’s lawsuit campaign, we continue to witness two important events. One, the population of the FastTrack network – where a majority of lawsuit recipients reside – continues to enjoy impressive numbers. Averaging just fewer than 3 million unique users at any given moment, FastTrack users seem to be oblivious to the RIAA’s efforts against this network. Second, the overall population of the P2P community continues to climb upward, with a record 9.5 million unique users in January 2006.

It’s almost as if no one is listening to the RIAA – a perception that indeed is becoming more fact than theory.

This is a trend that may be difficult to reverse for the RIAA, as music file-sharing is vastly different than movie file-sharing. Mainstream individuals looking for music choose such networks as Gnutella or FastTrack. Like the RIAA’s lawsuit recipients, these methods are nameless, faceless, and without community. The demise or long term absence off the developer would go largely unnoticed by mainstream users. How many Kazaa users can articulate the details of Sharman Networks’ current legal battle?

Movie sharing is another ball game. Although not of vital importance, a significant number of movie sharers use indexing sites such as the ones mentioned in last week’s lawsuits. Because of their communal nature, it’s no big secret when MPAA enforcements go down. Razorback2 users didn’t need the latest CNN news flash, and the ISOHunt community knew about the lawsuits before the owners did.

Yet elevating the presence of copyright enforcement efforts is no guarantee of success either. The population of eDoneky2000 and BitTorrent continue to increase despite many high profile enforcment efforts - such as the loss of EliteTorrents and SuprNova. Significant events such as last week’s tirade are not uncommon, and past MPAA enforcements during December of 2004 are considered more momentous. Also important to note, only NiteShadow.com and TorrentBox.com were trackers - the rest being search engines.

The question then becomes, will the MPAA's well placed strikes against file-sharing indexing servers and sites carry enough momentum to turn the tide against unauthorized file-sharing, or will these actions become just another day in the life of P2P?


This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
Legal/Courtroom :: Other Lawsuits

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