Opinion Give the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) credit for a huge win against P2P file-trading technology. A recent settlement has exposed the scaly underbelly of some P2P site operators. In particular, the MPAA has outed Edward Webber - the owner of BitTorrent hub LokiTorrent.
When the MPAA filed a round of lawsuits at BitTorrent sites, LokiTorrent stood up as a proud defender of P2P technology. It promised to battle the MPAA to the death in court and asked for financial aid from file-traders to make this legal fight possible. Loyal traders tossed more than $40,000 to Edward Webber's crew, hoping to give P2P technology another day in court.
Do BitTorrent hubs that merely point the way to copyrighted files actually violate copyrights? Aren't they just maps? Aren't they legal?
The courts won't have a crack at answering these questions because LokiTorrent gave in to the major movie studious. The ever-vigilant Jon Newton at P2Pnet discovered this week that Webber agreed to pay $1m to the MPAA, to never run a suspect BitTorrent hub again and to turn over all the data sitting on his servers.
The comic or tragic part of this situation is Webber's apparent defense of these actions posted on another site owned by him called MuffTorrent.
"Muff Torrent has lost the fight for your rights to freely share on the internet," the site says. "All donations to this point have been spent on legal fees. Any future donations will be spent paying off remaining bills."
It's easy to argue the use of 'fight' in that statement. Weber settled out of court. If you donated money to LokiTorrent, it was apparently used to craft document 3:04-CV-2642-N available in PDF format from P2Pnet here. If you traded on LokiTorrent, Muff Torrent or any other Webber owned site, you paid a lawyer to turn over your identity and evidence of your file-trading to the MPAA.
"NO donation money to date (legal or otherwise) has been spent on personal expenses (for those who were recently wondering)," the web site message continues.
So Weber didn't buy a cheeseburger with your $40,000, but he may have bought his legal staff a nice lunch spread. Fight? Hardly.
"Thank you for your undying support over the past year. We will miss having you here as much as you will miss being here."
The settlement bars Webber from running any P2P sites that may violate any MPAA copyrights. He, however, has vowed to keep making "fun and useful" sites.
To be fair, we would have caved under the demands of a $1m settlement too, but we wouldn't have promised to fight until the end with other peoples' money in the first place.
Read more on the matter here. ®