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Sloppy DirectConnect Hub Operator Sentenced
October 20, 2005
Thomas Mennecke
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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 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.

This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
P2P Clients :: DC++
Legal/Courtroom :: Individual Lawsuits

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