Privacy Watch
July 31, 2002
The MPAA's Ranger Wants to Benevolently Index the Contents of All of Your Devices...And then spam you

The MPAA's latest weapon against online piracy comes at the expense of your system's security -- wink wink, nudge nudge, all in the name of protecting the 5% revenue loss claimed by the industry that's currently under investigation for misrepresenting those numbers anyway...

Theoretically, Ranger is scouring the Internet looking for filenames it believes to belong to pirated files -- although its only source of information for the names of those files is a list it gets from the MPAA.

Meanwhile, I wonder what else is the MPAA and Ranger Online might decide to do with all of that private information that its collecting from "peer-to-peer sites" (user's hard drives) without obtaining permission? Hmmm...

More about Ranger Online and what the hell that's all about and how it appears that the Motion Picture Industry is about to be taken on the most expensive snipe hunt in its history later, but I thought you'd want to check out this rather informative article (despite its being an obvious-tool-of-mpaa hype-and-propaganda) from the Washington Post:
'Ranger' Vs. the Movie Pirates .

Ranger takes the titles and, "like a bloodhound," Valenti said, sets out on the Internet, looking for those films on Web sites, in chat rooms, on peer-to-peer sites. It is an automated software, speeding across the Internet. When it finds a movie title, it marks the location, decides whether the movie is being used in a way that infringes on its copyright, then moves on. Jeremy Rasmussen, Ranger Online's chief technology executive and founder, won't disclose exactly how his software manages this, except to say: "The challenge is 'How do you cover a lot of area without having to visit every page?' That's part of the intelligent way we scan."

Ranger Online provides the data to the MPAA and prepares cease-and-desist letters. The MPAA reviews the data and decides which letters to send. Last year, the group sent 54,000 letters; this year, it is on pace to send 80,000 to 100,000. Typically, the letters are sent to the Internet service provider hosting a site or user that the MPAA has deemed to possess ill-gotten films. The ISPs take down the offending site 85 to 90 percent of the time, Valenti said. Ranger then checks back periodically on the offending site to make sure it hasn't begun pirating again.

If the letters don't work, then the MPAA may contact local authorities, asking them to seize computer servers storing the pirated films. MPAA action recently led to a server seizure in the Netherlands.

Ranger sells itself to the MPAA and other clients based on its global scope, speed and thorough analysis. But a recent suit questions Ranger's precision.

Posted by Lisa at July 31, 2002 01:32 PM | TrackBack
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