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MPAA sues six TV BitTorrent sites

Written by Petteri Pyyny (Google+) @ 13 May 2005 14:26 User comments (41)

MPAA sues six TV BitTorrent sites MPAA has turned its attention to rapidly growing TV piracy and has sued six websites offering BitTorrent trackers for TV shows. The sites were extremely popular among non-Americans, who typically have to wait between 6 months and several years in order to have the major American TV shows aired in their home country.
Each site can be sued for hefty fines, ranging between $30,000 and $150,000 per each and every downloaded file. But, it is interesting to see how the American legislation will handle BitTorrent trackers, as the distribution of the files is done by users themselves (assuming that the sites themselves didn't "seed" the original files).

This is the first time that MPAA has attacked against TV show piracy and the reason for the move is obvious -- sales of DVD "box sets" of TV shows are huge.

MPAA said in its press release: "On these sites, anyone in the world can download entire television seasons in a single click. Every television series depends on other markets -- syndication, international sales -- to earn back the enormous investment required to produce the comedies and dramas we all enjoy, and those markets are substantially hurt when that content is stolen."

These are the sites that were sued: ShunTV, ZonaTracker, Scifi-Classics, CDDVDHeaven, Braggin'Rights and #BT @ EFnet.

While the abovementioned sites are down, at least for now, you can still search for torrents (and torrent sites) using, for instance, TorrentTyphoon. TorrentTyphoon is a meta search engine which catalogs the contents of several trackers and provides a simple, yet effective interface for searching the sites.

Source: MPAA

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41 user comments

113.5.2005 14:41

"Every television series depends on other markets -- syndication, international sales -- to earn back the enormous investment required to produce the comedies and dramas we all enjoy, and those markets are substantially hurt when that content is stolen." JesusMotherofjoseph....would some slap this dipshit for me. Hmmm all the quality comedy coming from America right now. British humor is better the shit being put on American tv right now. No offence to you Brits, but the only good stuff on American tv is Southpark and they dont give a damn about torrents.

213.5.2005 17:03

The TV series bt sites have a good chance at court winning this or atleast breaking even, the judge is more likely to rule that TV shows ripped have to feature the ads then rule it completly illegal (most likely meaning that the current inventory will have to be removed from the sites and replaced with torrent files that feature the ads also), because the ads are the only difference between what is recorded with a VCR and what is downloaded from the TV series torrents (If any of the owners play this right they can stay online and continue legally).

313.5.2005 17:12

I have a subscription to cable TV, most of it is crap, but I have a subscription to HBO as well. All the TV shows I ever got off BT@EFNet were from channels that I pay for every month, and we're talking like $50+ a month (goddamn Comcast). Not only is watching an XviD copy way better due to quality, but shows like The Daily Show aren't going to come out on DVD? I mean come on, and all the new new TV shows (Family Guy Season 4, American Dad) aren't out on DVD. So what the deal? Lastly, most new TV sucks now. I only watch The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, The Daily Show, South Park, and a few other shows that are on new seasons and such. The first episode of season 4 of Family Guy shows how many crap TV shows Fox has gone though. I also watch things that never get ripped like G4TV and even the International Channel recently renamed to AZNTV (how offensive, right? They think it's funny to make a TV channel called that because of the stupid thing online that "AZN KiDZ TiPe LiEK DiZ" or whatever.) Anyway I found my TV shows on another torrent site now. So **** the MPAA.

413.5.2005 17:12

A song can be recorded from the radio and then shared on the internet but it doesnt make it legal. I agree that this is somewhat of a grey area however, just making sure the ads are still there doesnt make it right. The problem is so many devices are already out there to do the exact same thing for everyone (Tivo for instance) then you can just edit the video captured. The big difference is the sharing part. They dont want it readily available. They feel if you had to watch it in the first place first hand and crop the commercials yourself then they got paid, but if you just download the full season quickly with BT you still havent paid for it. A valid arguement but it is still grey. Ludikhris

513.5.2005 17:22

holly crap u guys r rigt into this ehh

613.5.2005 18:09

how can they shut down BTefnet? that website only had the newest episodes of each show, meaning they didn't even have DVDs to rip people off with yet! !!GODDAMN MPAA!!

713.5.2005 18:48

OK I can understand the industry fighting back. However, wouldn't it be better to learn from the experience and realise the potential! The music industry now realises that ITunes is a good thing. I live in Australia where I'm subjected to some seriously weird TV schedules. TV simply disappear overnight with no explanation and nothing on their website. CBS, Fox, NBC, ABC, HBO etc need to wake up to themselves. Selling overpriced DVDs with ten mins of extras is not the answer. The answer is offering me a service where I can DL the shows I want for a fair price now not six months/years after the show has aired. Until this happens nothing will change. P2P won't go away. I'm already looking at new ways to feed my addiction. These sites are still working: torrentspy Exeem is down right now but a new version is due to be released. I'd appreciate anyones feedback on how they feed their habit? Thanks for listening....

813.5.2005 19:03

Even if the TV companies started selling downloadable TV episodes, they wouldn't be how I like them, which is of course, unDRM'd XviD properly encoded to 175MB per half hour, 640x* for widescreen, 512x* for 4:3, etc etc.

913.5.2005 19:10

Good point but if my choice is DL shows with ads v no options I know what I'd choose. I live in Oz where the daily show simply isn't available... I simply want choice as a consumer. If I was making these decisions I'd be looking at my options:. DL shows with Ads for a price Without ads high quality XVid with/without ads. You get what you pay for....

1013.5.2005 20:46

How rediculous. A TV show can be broadcast anywhere in the world, via satellite, in seconds. So I honestly see no reason why anyone, anywhere in the world, should have to wait SIX MONTHS to see a TV show from anywhere else in the world. I was happy as hell that I was able to watch Battlestar Galactica long before it was even released here in the US. Thanks to some kind hearted Brit who said to himself "Hey this is a good show, why should everyone else have to wait months to see it?". I would have been perfectly happy watching it on TV, commercials and all, IF I HAD BEEN ABLE TO!

1114.5.2005 1:02

The MPAA should be happy that others are making shows available to download. It widens the audience and many more people will watch thier shows than ever before, I would be more likely to download a show I have never heard of than ever tune it on the TV. This also frees up peoples schedules as they can watch whatever they want whenever they want rather than waiting around for what your station thinks is a good time to put on your show.

1214.5.2005 3:41

Well, I agree. I watch Daily Show everyday but I watch the one that was on before. I always forget that at 7 PM that the day's Daily Show will be on. Just like Comcast's On Demand, with downloads I can watch TV shows anytime I want. This is great because if I missed the previous night's Family Guy or whatever, I can watch it the next day, because when is the next time Family Guy episodes from Season 4 will be replayed? I think not in a LONG LONG time. And the DVDs are over priced.

1314.5.2005 3:48

The MPAA should be happy that others are making shows available to download.
I don't even think stopping p2p is their goal, but only money making. But anyway, I found my torrents from other sites and shows I watch are ending now (Simsons + Smallville). USA is very sick country right now.

1514.5.2005 8:30

I can sum this up in a few words: GREED, GREED and more GREED. Just look at the recent article listed on this site about Putting some kind of "TAG" on a signal so it cant be put on P2P. The greedatainment industry lost that battle. I have a nice post there about this subject. Ok Mr. Entertainement industry look at this. If you could sell DVD for under $10 then most people would not bother with P2P. If all the worldwide networds would join together and throw the switch to make all channels go worldwide then again most would not bother with P2P. If a music CD only cost $4 then the MP3 thing may end. P2P is not there just because. Its there because you charge way to much for your product and don't make it available to everyone at the same time. Now my suggestion may sound like you would lose money. Guess what, you would make more money. you would have more than Trippled sales and increased the cable audiance. Just look at Wal Mart. These are the exact princables they excersise. They even sell way under cost on some things to get people in to buy other things. Look how fast they got as big as they are and even still growing. Most of you producer companies have been arround twice as long as Wal Mart and now they are bigger than you. Think about it. So Mr. Entertainement the cheapest and only way you are going to win this battle is to lower your cost and make everything available to everyone (worldwide) at the same time and at a good price. Mr. Cable quit forcing us to subscribe to crap channels. To get the good ones you always throw in 3 times more crap channels. Yes that is the only way you can sell them but we don't want them and don't want to pay for them. Think about it. $50 a month for Comcast??? how many channels do you have with that? I am paying $40 for 75 channels plus all the HBOs on Dish Network. The only think cable has that dish companies don't is That on demand stuf. Big deal not worth the jacked up prices. It takes a very bad nasty storm to block signal. Enjoy -Del

1614.5.2005 8:42

Godammit! this was one of my favourite torrent sites!! bloody hell they suck arse

1714.5.2005 12:11

Checked out one of the sites CDDVDHEAVEN it didn't have any tv series on so what they sueing it for.I think they are doing going thru the motions because the motion picture studios pay them a lot of money so they have to be seen to be earning it's fees

1815.5.2005 1:19

The more attention they give to downloading tv eps the more exposure it will get and more people will do it. They cant stop it. Beside BT, you can get eps via P2P clients, newsgroups, private ftp servers, and good old mIRC. Happy Hunting

1915.5.2005 21:05

This just represents the greed to control content.All the noise is to show how BIG an issue this really is. "MY god dear mr.judge their even doing it to t.v. shows". At the end of the day they want/need to sell advertizing period. If the show sales were a big issue then how will they stop people from renting them and "backing them up"? Some of the net work shows likely can be still picked up with the old rabbit ears in big centres so will they come wrap tinfoil around them too? The episode always has to air before it is ripped and upped so it is old news by the time it hit's the masses!!!

2016.5.2005 8:09

When you cut a head from hydra, it grows two more.

2116.5.2005 8:25

This has reached the point of absurdity. Are you serious? As much as I wish it weren't an issue, I can understand the need for the protection of movies and music. These media have to be sold to individual consumers in order for profit to be made. TV, though, seems to be different to me. True, households pay for cable programming, but the groups involved in the making of the television shows make more money in advertisements et al. Much of the mainstream programming today is available on the basic channels, without cable. I watch television, and I watch my favorite shows when they're actually being aired. Instead of taping them to watch later, I would like to download them. Is there a difference in taping them, and downloading them? To me, it seems to be the same thing, and I don't see the MPAA chasing down those who buy blank VHS tapes, or VCR's with recording capability. Although, given the past couple of years, I really wouldn't be surprised if that sort of thing started to occur. Anyway, I guess I'll finish my rant up by saying that I just don't think this should be happening.

2216.5.2005 9:50

they have already done that, read here: "In the Betamax case, the Supreme Court ruled that a company was not liable for creating a technology that some customers may use for copyright infringing purposes, so long as the technology is capable of substantial non-infringing uses. In other words, where a technology has many uses, the public cannot be denied the lawful uses just because some (or many or most) may use the product to infringe copyrights."

2316.5.2005 11:17

Edsloter your should be the attorney to defend this. Acording to what you just posted they can not win this lawsuit unless They overthrow the action of the betamax case. P2P can be, and is mostly used for non-pirating means. So in this case P2P can be looked at the same way Betamax was then. Maybe this is why they gave up on MP3 and chose to work with it. I realy do not see them winning this BS. It will be fun to watch and we will have a big laugh when that gavel slams down and the judge says "Shut the F*** up MPAA. Quit your crying and move on to something more important." -Del

2416.5.2005 13:48

you are right, and .torrent files are even more legal than regular p2p, because all .torrents are hash and checksum. nothing more.

2516.5.2005 14:14

this is just stupid.. I found it very useful when i miss a show, to just download the episode i missed. If i couldn't do this, i would miss a lot of quality TV shows. What is the difference between taping a tv show for later viewing, or downloading it for later viewing? I cant see any..

2616.5.2005 14:52

the only thing i could see is they are pissed about the removing of ads (but if you tape it dont you just FF by them??)

2717.5.2005 13:51

We are so behind these days. I think there is alot of money to be made. im addicted to downloading. If we have a site we can download the TV eps from that site can display the advertisment. Problem solved. Anyway. I pay to use Broadband, and everyone knows broadband is used to download data. does it matter what format it's in? Think about it, Just what to quote the MPAA "On these sites, anyone in the world can download entire television seasons in a single click. Every television series depends on other markets -- syndication, international sales -- to earn back the enormous investment required to produce the comedies and dramas we all enjoy, and those markets are substantially hurt when that content is stolen" Who stole what? these companies air them for everyone to watch, these companies still have the original? It's not as if someone died.... to me, downloading TV eps is not diffrent than taping from the TV and lending that tape to a friend or taping a radio show to listen to a particular song again or dvd recorders that record from the TV so you dont miss your show. seams to me there is a market out there for people like us. Is call freedom. freedom to watch whatever we want when we want. There should be a site that allows this and pay so much to the BIG-Companies. It can only increase there revenue....

2818.5.2005 0:56

MPAA are not playn' Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! I want my torrent sites back ;0(

2918.5.2005 9:29

I just don't get what the big deal is, satelite providers and cable companies supply there viewers with hd recievers(Tivo) witch allow you to record television shows to watch at a later time. Basicly these torrent sites were the same idea.

3018.5.2005 18:28

I think some of you are missing the point about this syndication and international sales thing. If someone from Australia, for example, downloads a copy of an episode the day after it's aired in the US, then they aren't going to watch it on TV when it finally airs 6 months/years down the track. If too many people don't watch it at the time, then the TV stations here are going to lose advertising revenue. If this happens, then they're not going to buy the episodes. The answer is, as pointed out several times already, is for the episodes to be aired world-wide AT THE SAME TIME! Then people like me, who have to wait months or years or even never, wont be tempted to download them. The best solutions are often the simplest.

312.6.2005 20:26

The thing is, Del had a point. If dvds and cds were way cheaper, they would still make their money, especially if the government would back off them as well, but even still. dvds and cds are way over priced and torrent sites will be created over and over and over again until we can drop these prices. i myself, totally agree with it.

324.8.2005 16:08

Last time I checked, I paid for the TV - not the TV shows. How can it be piracy, if you dont purchase TV shows? This does not make any damn sense at all. Sure, they are loosing advertising revenu, but what about these browser developers such as Mozilla, Netscape, and all these other companies with popup blockers. Shouldn't they also sue the makers of those web browsers for internet piracy?

335.8.2005 7:12

It's all politics, you all should know that lol. I think that the government is never happy and they just want more and more money... things just keep getting more complicated and it sux for the consumer and benefits who? the government, thats right...what is the real cost to make a cd? prolly a buck or 2 but yet they sell them for 25 bux....we need to find a way to send a direct message to these idiots

345.8.2005 7:41

I do not know the exact number for how much it actually cost to make the cd/dvd. I do know it is less than 1 cent to make one. However there are other cost to consider. Artists time to make the disk. The equipment maintenance costs to make the CD/DVD. Producer charges to record the artists or make the movie. Distribution costs (which include shipping and other charges to get the product to the store. So even though the actual disk virtually cost nothing the other charges must be re cooped with an amount of profit in order for the process to exist. Personally I think they are gouging us and charging way to much in the profit area to sell the CD/DVD. The more we allow them to get away with overpricing the worse it is going to get. The only way I can see that they can get the message is to boycott all media sales and rentals for a minimum of 2 months. Buying used media would be OK since they make no money off those sales. They really do not make money off rentals but by renting you give that store money to buy more movies. Two months should be enough time for then to feel the pain and see that the consumer is serious. This is the only way to show them we cant be walked all over. I really do not expect the boycott to work since to many people would not be strong enough to maintain it that long. They think they need their music/movies. I can see it lasting the way it should for a week. That is not long enough for them to feel anything. Someone in here said star this on 9-11. that should be sufficient time to get the word out and hope for the best. Look at it this way. When a retail store has trouble moving a product what do they do? They lower the price until it moves. Two months should have the same result on media. Anyway that is my take on it again. -Del

355.8.2005 12:52

This boycott thing sounds good, but my part in it wont have much effect as I don't buy much any way, hehe. The last time I bought a music CD was *thinks back* years I think. And the last movie DVD I bought was Dark Crystal, which was released a few months back. But good luck on getting a boycott organised.

365.8.2005 14:08

"Look at it this way. When a retail store has trouble moving a product what do they do? They lower the price until it moves. Two months should have the same result on media. Anyway that is my take on it again." -Del Think about this though.... how could we ever get consumers to do that? There is just no way that we can actually have everyone stop buying media! So all in all, it mostly turns into a Lose Lose situation..... But i do definately agree with you Del.

3726.12.2005 7:50

"...The MPAA should be happy that others are making shows available to download. It widens the audience and many more people will watch thier shows than ever before...." That is so true, many of us poor brits would never have even considered the TV shows such as "numb3rs", battlestar galactica" and that little known show "lost". Many of those who had watched lost before it came out in England had built created large amounts of hype about the show that, when it finally did come out over here, many more people began to watch it!! Anyways, those who had watched it previously watched it again anyway.

389.1.2006 11:33

If you cannot get a torrent, then try getting it from Netflix and do with it what you want!!

3911.1.2006 1:17

Stumbled onto this thread by accident, but found some interesting points and just wanted to add my own experience. I to am a heavy downloaded of TV Series and I am badly addicted to it, the funny thing is its the TV stations here in Aus that made my like this, after waiting for months to see the final season of Friends a while back Channel 9 stopped it mid season to show a bunch of repeats, basically stretching the season out for the next ratings period. It was this one factor that got me downloading TV, from that point Ive had the attitude "why wait" when it finnally aires here months later the shows are never consistent a break here a time slot change there...and if you miss 1 single episode, like in 24... Bang it ruins the whole show, not to mention constant ad breaks. Anyway I don't need to bang on about the reasons for downloading we all know and appreciate the benefits. I just wanted to bring a up a very valid point about showing things world wide at the same time. I am a HUGE Survivor and The Amazing Race fan... I download both as soon as they are available, I can't wait to watch it each week.. During the latest season of Survivor (Guatemala) Channel nine here did an Australian television first and showed it almost the same time, it airs in America on Thursday nights and they showed it in Australia every Friday, with the time difference it was something like 5 or 6 hours delayed, so for the first time ever, I could get my weekly survivor fix from TV before I had a chance to download it. The result is that every Friday i tuned in to Channel 9 watched Survivor and all the crappy ads that went with it, but I didnt care cause i was wathing the show I wanted to as soon as I could. As for the Amazing Race 8 (family edition) channel 7 are holding onto it til the rating start again in Feburary (maybe could be later) so sadly for 7, I will not be tuning into their station or ads at all as I already got the season thanks to my beloved BT. The point is that its true if my favorite TV shows are shown at the same time world wide, then I would sit and watch it on TV, it wouldnt stop me from Downloading, however in this sense how is that different to recording with a VHS....

403.6.2006 5:05

Downloading of the internet has not been easy due to the bandwidth limitations set on most users + servers. I wish these companies would smell the future. Torrents will allow them to propogate their media cheaply and speedily by using (legal + illegal) downloaders (seeds + leechs). Just think about it... 100 bought the 99 cent (Stargate Atlantis 2x01) show. However 700 wanted to download it... Basically the company made 99$ and served the file "1" time, to its 700+100=800 torrent users who have and will continue to serve the file "free of charge" to other users. But 99% of the people will pirate... booh hooo! Yah, this is probably the case, but 1% of a billion users is still 10 million dollars baby!

4119.11.2007 11:51

The point of the taping is to be able to watch the show at a different time because you are busy with other things to do.

I know why its because if you tape it you tape the ads too so sometimes you watch the ads when you watch the tapes but I fast forward my self.

Although you can watch most of the shows on the sites about 5-6 hours after they air that's what I do unless its Smallville that's not available on CW and that sucks.

NBC,ABC,CBS,SciFI,TNT,Spike,Comedy central,FOX, all these yoyu can watch the new shows without downloading so I don't know why you guys are getting pissed about the torrent I love it too because they don't show old shows that went off the air enough.

Like Babylon 5 had too download that or Earth final conflict.

But I recently found joost and they have a lot of shows on there that I like.

But I would still download I just wish they didn't shut down my favorite site Demonoid.

At least at demonoid there were seeders and no viruses and adware malware you had too worry about.

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