This paper was written by researchers at the University of Washington, and explores the difficulties associated with monitoring P2P file sharing networks for copyright infringement, and how the notice and takedown procedure is affected. Two experiments were conducted, one in August 2007 and a second in May 2008, where researches intentionally implicated their own University controlled IP addresses in BitTorrent activity, but without any uploading or downloading of copyright infringing material. As a result, the researchers received a variety of takedown notices from the music and movie industries – over 400 false positives between the two experiments. Additionally, they were able to maliciously implicate other IP addresses in their experimentation, heavily suggesting that independent third parties without any connection to possible copyright infringing activity could receive takedown notices. To demonstrate the ridiculousness of this, the researchers were able to get multiple takedown notices sent to the IP address of a networked printer, incapable of copyright infringement via BitTorrent. They found that indirect monitoring of BitTorrent and other P2P networks, while less costly and resource intensive, is much less accurate than direct monitoring and results in the numerous amount of false claims. The current methods used to monitor these networks are highly inconclusive of whether actual infringement is taking place.
This paper is a great resource in that it takes no sides in the forthcoming “arms race” between infringers and monitors, but rather surveys the current landscape and makes determinations about the effectiveness of the strategies. While not offering an opinion on the fair use or protected speech implications, it illustrates how takedown notices are issued without extensive care. To receive a notice when no uploading or downloading of an infringing file has occurred, or even worse, when a person is arbitrarily and incorrectly framed for being involved in using BitTorrent, exemplifies the failures of the current system. Anecdotally speaking, the example of the printer receiving a takedown notice for downloading an illegal file is specifically poignant.