I’m a careful person when it comes to my Internet presence. The content one posts on the web is forever etched as your persona. I choose my words carefully when using my name. I remain thoughtful and courteous. /sys/toilet is an entirely different world, and I choose to do it anonymously. I use Tor. I never tie the wordpress accounts to a name. I use multiple email redirections. I want to protect my own personal intellectual property, which defines me.
I can’t explain why I’m so careless with my piracy. It must be due to laziness. “Hey, there are millions of people using illegal torrents right now. In fact, there are twenty thousand others downloading the same file I am. Safety in numbers!”
I received a certified letter in the mail from my ISP, and my heart immediately stopped. “Oh SHIT!” I thought. Before I opened it, I thought it must be a DMCA take down notice. A strongly worded slap-on-the-wrist, cease and desist letter. “Stop what you’re doing, or we’re going to cancel your Internet service.”
As I signed for the letter, my mind raced through the procedures I’d do to cover all of this up. I’d sign whatever was necessary to state I’d never do it again. Then, I’d start researching the various proxying techniques that work well with torrents. “Maybe I’ll start out with testing HTTP proxies as they’re the easiest to use. I could try Tor, but I’m guessing that will be really slow and shitty. But SOCKS 5 proxies are the most secure, and allow me to tunnel ssh traffic and all sorts of goodies through them. Oh, but the best of all would be an anonymous VPN! I could find something that used IPSec or PPTP and even encrypt my traffic. But that might not work well with the chit-chatty torrent protocol, all of that encryption overhead would be super slow.”
All of this zoomed through my head as I opened up the envelope. As I glanced at the cover letter, the words SUBPOENA and “The Hurt Locker” jumped out at me. “Oh fuck me!” was the only thing in my head after that. The second thing that I remembered is I didn’t even watch that movie! I just stuffed it in my list of other shit and never got around to seeing it. One year later when I received the letter, I had forgotten that I downloaded it. I had to actually look back in my old content to see that I actually had the damn movie. What a kick in the teeth that is!
I immediately started to Google search for advice. This ended up being a bad idea. This entire lawsuit is such a fucking scam, but it’s completely legal in our system. The lawyers are bigger criminals than the pirates! One firm out of Phoenix is offering to negotiate a lower settlement for only $295. Another guy in Florida is selling documents for $20 that you can file yourself. These are both just examples of shark lawyers trying to feed off the scraps from the fear created by Voltage Pictures and Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver.
After talking with a “real” lawyer, I found that I was even more fucked than I originally expected.
- Any case that does make it to court will most likely lose
- The judge was not accepting any more anonymous Motion to Quash documents (This means that all of the sharks out there selling assistance with this are just selling snake oil)
- To actually get legal help with this would be more expensive than just settling
- Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver were supposedly negotiable, and would settle at a reasonable offer. So just lowball it first and see if they accept
So my only logical course of action after this information was to wait for the subpoena to go through and wait for the individual lawsuit against myself. Then, contact these jackasses and offer some low number, like $500. (My best assumption was that the initial settlement offer was somewhere around $1500 – $2000.)
Then a miracle happened. A pirate miracle! Our Lord Maddox himself must have had a hand in this. That or the entire Pirate Bay.
The judge ordered Voltage Pictures to stop fucking around. To paraphrase that five page mess of legal speak:
Dudes [Voltage Pictures], I’m really sick of you bastards using my courtroom as a legalized phishing scam. Bring me some names of people that you are actually going to sue or I’m dismissing this shit. In fact, I’m so pissed off that I’m tossing out those 5,000 people you’re attempting to subpoena, and limiting you to the first 687 IP addresses in the initial complaint.
Since I was not in the initial list, I’m off the hook. Well, not completely, as these jackasses still have my IP address. They could hypothetically haunt my ISP indefinitely with threats. But, it seems like Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver are running into more difficulty with judges. Hopefully these frivolous lawsuits will be illegal in the near future.
Until then… what’s a pirate to do? Newsgroups sound like a safe medium so far, but it seems like your privacy is only protected by the will of the newsgroup hosting service. Many of them say “you’re safe with us, we don’t give out your information.” But that’s just promises. I’d like to see some proof that people like Giganews has fought a massive court battle to protect their members.
Plus, I have a deep disgust for shelling out cash to steal shit that’s free to begin with. If I have to pay $18 per month to steal movies, I might as well just pay $8 for Netflix.
The only other option left is to firewall the hell out of myself and stick with torrents. And that’s what I’m doing for now. I setup moblock on my firewall box with auto-updating PeerGuardian lists. It’s not perfect, and it blocks a lot of normal IP addresses too so I constantly need to tweak it.
I’m still a little hesitant to rely a firewall that blocks a list of IPs that are updated by humans. Any investigator could just find a new route onto the Internet and start digging for seeders, right? To keep things sane, I’m avoiding movies in general. If I do see a movie I’m interested in, I check to make sure that it’s not created by Voltage Pictures.
I’d love to hear any of your suggestions, so please comment!