Recently, it was brought to our attention that the pro-piracy blog TorrentFreak had ran an article about a torrent site that was experiencing a Denial Of Service attack. While that part is nothing new, the interesting part was that the majority of the article seemed to focus on Takedown Piracy’s involvement with this piracy site which then seemed to suggest that TDP was somehow involved in the whole fiasco.
First, go ahead and read the article written by Enigmax at TF:
Okay, now that you’ve read that take, we’ll give you the actual story.
About a year ago we first started getting complaints about this piracy site. The site in question is a torrent site that specializes exclusively in pro-wrestling and MMA torrents. We had a client who had produced his own documentary and the film was being pirated via this site. We sent them a notice to remove and they ignored the notice. The site was also soliciting “donations” in order to fund their operation and those donations were going through US-based Paypal in clear violation of the TOS of Paypal.
So we sent Paypal the proper paperwork and Paypal cut off funding for the site. The site responded by switching payment processors and moving to WebMoney, also US-based. Again, we filed a notice with WebMoney and had the service cut off. Then the site switched to Google Wallet, but this time they added a new wrinkle. They set up a fake “web hosting” business along with fake testimonials and everything to be the “front” they used in order to process payments using Google Wallet. This part of the story is shown in more detail on our blog – here.
After closing down so many of their payment options, the admin of the piracy site contacted us with the following email:
From: Staff <[email protected]>
Subject: DMCA for specific file
I am a member of staff at a wrestling website called XWT.
I have been reading your article and wanted to know what specific torrent files/URL's you are wanting taken down?
On 5/8/2013 at 9:40 PM, “Nate Glass” <[email protected]> wrote:
Both appear to have been finally removed.
In the future, may I use this email address to request copyright
infringing torrents be removed?
Owner, Takedown Piracy
Yes, that would be fine. Can we confirm that your client will be satisfied with the result and reports will cease on our donation options?
On 5/8/2013 at 11:54 PM, “Nate Glass” <[email protected]> wrote:
If you will remove upon notification by myself for my current and future clients, then yes.
Note that I included future clients, because I had a deal in the works with an independent pro-wrestling organization and wanted to make sure our deal would cover them.
The response from XWT:
Are there any current clients that you need to provide DMCA’s for?
At this time – no. Though we have clients about to come on board that we will need to provide DMCAs for.
And their final response at the time:
Fast forward a few months, we had not had any run-ins with them until our documentary filmmaker gave us a heads up that his movie was appearing on the site again. Upon inspection we saw that the site was back to soliciting PayPal “donations” again, this time using a fake business that charged you for “custom avatars”. We then sent the site three takedown notices. 2 for our documentary filmmakers, and 1 for the indy organization we had just added to our client roster. The documentary torrents were removed, but here’s the response we got to the notice for the indy group:
These torrents will NOT be removed. I would suggest contacting the website below considering they are the source for a lot of the packs found on my website.
So you know full well that this is copyrighted material of Ring of Honor and you are refusing to remove it?
Torrent files are not the actual video file, they are simply meta links. They are also being hosted within a country where torrents are legal, if you would like to bring this up with my host, that is your choice.
As i said, the majority of these meta links are downloaded from http://rudos.tv which provide full direct download links to actual video files to which they charge a membership fee in order to download them and stream them, i would suggest you contact them for actually breaking the law before threatening me.
So we’ll play the payment processor game again. I thought we had already went through this and you stated you would remove when we sent you a notice. So now you are going back on your word.
You don’t care to reply to what i just said to you? Torrent files are not breaking the law within the country they are hosted. They don’t even contain copyright information within them either.
And yet you refuse to contact a website that is fully sharing copyright material and making people pay for that copyrighted work.. what a joke.
If you think what you are doing is perfectly legal then that’s your opinion man. Having dedicated sections using the trademarked names among everything else is pretty obvious. You might want to research the idea of “contributory copyright infringement” or read up on the IsoHunt case.
Then there’s that whole fake “web hosting” business you were running in order to profit from the content distributed with the help of your site. Which, by the way, I still have all the evidence of.
And now you’re taking money…AGAIN. You want to point the finger at Rudos but you’re just as much of a profiteer as they are. Both of you are making money off work that you didn’t do. If you think they are bad then you must hate to look in the mirror, because you are no different.
But don’t worry, we’re filing notices on Rudos already, you aren’t being singled out.
However, I will be sharing all this information with the attorneys for WWE and UFC.
My point is, within the law of the country my website is hosted in, these torrents are legal. There is no if’s or buts about that. Let me point you to the Oink case, SceneTorrent case, FileSoup case, Richard O’Dwyer case among others. And let me point out that movie studios were backing the majority of those cases that fell through.
Collect your evidence, but i hope you have a name and address to attach to all of that.
When you are dedicating sections to specific content producers using their trademarked names, etc., I don’t think the legality of the contents of a torrent file are your only concern.
And yes, I have the name and address you list in your WHOIS. Unless that information is false, which seems to be a cowardly move if you really feel that you are 100% legal, what would you have to hide by giving false information?
But I’m no lawyer, I’ll just pass along all this info the attorneys for ROH, UFC, WWE etc.
I asked you to remove Colt and Nigel’s movie and a few months ago you did that because you were running out of payment processors (guess they didn’t think what you were doing was 100% legal either), you said you would remove anything I sent you a notice on in the future. Now you are going back on your word. Easiest thing would have been to remove the ROH stuff and be done with it.
But instead of that you want to play this game again except now you want to put yourself in the crosshairs of even more companies. This was avoidable but you chose to make it more difficult.
Their final response:
One or two torrents i would consider removing. 100’s? I don’t think so. Do whatever needs to be done, any further contact will be ignored.
At this point we proceeded to have their Paypal account suspended again. It’s also important to note the last batch of email exchanges happened on August 30th, 2013.
Unbeknownst to us, but knownst to others, while this was going on XWT was experiencing a DDOS attack. DDOS stands for Distributed Denial Of Service and it’s a way people try to bring down and cripple websites that have drawn their ire.
According to this piracy website, the attack in question had at least been going on since August 8th.
On August 25th, five days before our exchange, the following was posted in the XWT Forum (note “X” is the username for the XWT owner):
What appears to be happening is one piracy site (Rudos) is pirating wrestling material and then charging users for access to the materials. But then those materials are ending up on XWT for free. Thus there’s no reason for anyone to pay for access to Rudos, they just wait until it shows up on XWT for free. This makes Rudos mad and someone there has apparently been attacking XWT over this.
Even though the site’s forum itself seemed to think the rival pirates were behind the attack, that didn’t stop the site from trying to place the blame on the companies whose content the site was ripping off.
XWT told TorrentFreak that the site’s datacenter managed to trace the attacks back to companies linked with a pair of sports organizations.
Of course, TorrentFreak didn’t need any proof to substantiate that claim. Because it’s a great headline and red meat for their cult-like readers. Reading the comments for the article illustrates that point perfectly. Even though the actual facts and site itself seem to contradict TorrenFreaks article, the confirmation bias of TF’s readers is in full effect. They want to believe that somehow the MPAA is behind this so they will blindly ignore anything that might challenge that outlook.
This comment from a TF poster went unresponded to:
Another classy TF poster:
Not to be outdone:
What’s even more interesting to us is the way the Rudos connection is completely glossed over by the TF crowd. We may have our disagreements with XWT but at least we can agree on collecting money for access to pirated content being a really shady thing to do. In fact, there USED to be a code of ethics for pirates which included a core tenant that you don’t profit off of piracy. These days, that rule seems to be long gone. In fact, there now appears to be absolutely nothing pirates can do that would make other pirates call them out on it. Long gone are the ethical pirates, replaced by selfish sheep repeating whatever Kim Dotcom tells them, or whatever garbage comes out of the EFF these days.
This article by TF could have been summed up for their readers as:
Noble pirates picked on by meanie copyright holders, but it has nothing to do with other pirates. MPAA probably involved, and the Illuminati.
Let us just state for the record. Takedown Piracy had absolutely 0% to do with any DDOS attack on XWT. We don’t do DDOS, we don’t approve of it and we think it’s the coward’s way out. It’s the computer equivalent of flipping over the Scrabble board because you’re losing. If XWT doesn’t want to respond to our notices, we’ll work through legal channels to seek remedy for our clients. We think it is pretty shoddy journalism to not even question the story you are reporting on, to not get each side of the story, instead focusing your story on the false narrative that incites your readers (some seeming to prefer violent retribution) is a disgusting perversion of journalism.