Thousands of Australians who illegally downloaded music and videos from a web site called www.miivi.com could find that they have been conned, as the sole purpose of the site was to trap people into uploading copyright material, and then bust them for doing so.
Among the organisations behind the sting are some of the world’s largest music and video companies.
SmartHouse has been told that thousands of Australians used the site which was run by Media Defender, a notorious anti-piracy gang working for the MPAA, RIAA and several independent media production companies which want to trap people who illegally download content so that they can prosecute them.
Media Defender is known for its shady tactics. Besides launching video upload services, it also traps people into downloading fake torrents so that they can collect IP addresses, and send copyright infringement letters to ISPs.
Most of the IPs of these fake BitTorrent trackers are already blocked by blocklist software such as PeerGuardian. However, the company still manages to collect the IP addresses of thousands of users who fall for the trap and download content.
Media Defender recently registered a new domain and launched a video upload / download site with a web 2.0 name: miivi.com.
Miivi claims to offer high speed downloads of blockbuster movies such as ‘300’ hereby luring people into downloading copyrighted content.
Apparently, the cease and desist letters they send to P2P users and video sharing sites such as YouTube and others aren’t enough. At the bottom of this article is a screenshot of the WHOIS info.
Hackers who intercepted email from MediaDefender, have now released hundreds of megabytes of data on the internet according to Associated Press.
The hackers, who identified themselves as “MediaDefender-Defenders,” over the weekend posted a 700-plus-megabyte file of emails and an audio recording of what appears to be a 25-minute conference call between MediaDefender executives and law enforcement officials.
Some of the leaked emails appeared to bolster the idea that MediaDefender was secretly running the web site on behalf of music and video Companies.
The company has denied running such a site. But at least one of the leaked emails appears to be a discussion about using the website, Miivi.com, to load software onto users’ computers that would relay bogus files and clutter file-sharing networks, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
Some of the emails reviewed by the Associated Press that were said to have been intercepted from MediaDefender featured communications between the company and record labels such as EMI Music and Universal Music Group. Some of the missives also included confidential information.
By releasing the emails, the hackers intended to “secure the privacy and personal integrity” of the millions of computer users who tap online file-sharing networks, and “create a viable defence to the tactics used by these companies,” according to a document included with the email file.
Gary Maier, a spokesman for Santa Monica-based MediaDefender’s parent company, ArtistDirect, said the company was investigating the incident. He declined to provide additional details, referring further questions to executives at MediaDefender, who were not immediately available.
The entertainment industry has been struggling to combat online piracy as the growth of computer bandwidth has enabled people to transfer huge amounts of data faster and faster.
The group claimed to have gained access to emails over a nine-month period after hacking into a Gmail account where one of MediaDefender’s employees had forwarded his work messages. The emails often included several recipients, among them a Jay Mairs.
Some included mundane exchanges, such as one employee’s plea for a leave of absence to go to India, and some contained sensitive company information such as details of MediaDefender’s dealings with clients and passwords to access private websites.
One email sent to Mairs and other employees described to colleagues how to log onto a company database, noting the password is: “tac0b3LL”.
The leak sent the tech blogosphere into overdrive. By Monday afternoon, excerpts were posted on websites such as Torrentfreak.com and Digg.com.
Computer users on file-sharing networks have offered for free entire music albums ripped from new CDs and movies ripped off DVDs or digitized after they’ve been surreptitiously recorded in theaters.
Many independent artists post their own music on such networks. But the major record labels have sued thousands of computer users in recent years to deter the unauthorized sharing of their content.
Nearly 10 million computers users are logged on to file-sharing networks at any given time, with more than 1 billion audio tracks swapped every month, according to BigChampagne Online Media Measurement, which tracks online entertainment and file-sharing activity.
MediaDefender stepped into the fray seven years ago, using a bevy of tactics to disrupt the illegal use of online file-sharing networks.
The company has used several techniques, including flooding networks with bogus versions of content, which can make it tougher for computer users to find the file they’re looking for.
The private information in the emails included an exchange that appears to involve a Universal Music executive, in which the executive’s name and passwords into a file transfer site were included.
In the email, Christopher J. Bell, of Universal Music’s eLabs unit, points Mairs and another MediaDefender employee to a Universal Music website, including the user name, “elabs02,” and the password: “GuE55!”
Universal declined to comment. A call to EMI was not immediately returned. MediaDefender appears to have also been helping law enforcement find computer users sharing child pornography online.