Indian film industry brings out the big guns.

09 September 2010

For a bit over ten years now, the movie industry has been complaining that piracy has been running rampant (it has) and cutting into their profit margins (even though they've been reporting record earnings consistently). There are more means of getting hold of illegal copies of anything than you have fingers: public and private websites, BitTorrent, other peer-to-peer file sharing services, FTP sites, your friends handing you copies... the list goes on and on. To date, aside from grabbing the IP addresses of the downloaders, running them to ground, and launching lawsuits not a whole lot has been done to really stem the tide of illicit bits.

Until a company in India called Aiplex Software stepped forward to state that they were being hired by movie studios to take out sources of pirated movies. The company, headed up by one Girish Kumar, periodically searches the Net looking for illegally posted downloads of his company's clients' work and sends requests to remove the pirated material to the websites under India's copyright infringement laws. If the websites do not comply within a reasonable period of time his company then launches unspecified denial of service attacks to render them inaccessible. It is unknown exactly what measures they take: distributed DoS attacks, involving thousands of hosts, are illegal in many countries, not only because of the damage they can do (remember: if you flood the link of a single web server every network upstream of that server is going to be adversely affected by the attack) but to build a decent one you need to infect all of those hosts with malware of some kind (which is illegal practically everywhere). One-shot-one-kill DoS exploits in web servers aren't all that common anymore so it's my suspicion that Aiplex Software has a bunch of fibre, DSL, and possibly cable lines with loads of computers hanging off of them, all waiting to HTTP or ICMP flood whatever sites they are aimed at.

But wait, there's more.

Kumar also stated that, from time to time, operatives of his company are called upon to compromise websites that refuse to comply and erase the offending files (usually torrents). Therein things get hinky becuase he's effectively admitted to breaking the anti-cracking laws of a number of countries (in the US it's 18 USC 1030), which opens him up to a boatload of liability, being sued into a smoking hole in the ground (it's not a matter of 'if' someone makes a mistake, it's a matter of 'when'), and let's not underestimate the power of a couple of honked off systems crackers striking back, and being far less merciful in so doing. Interestingly, a number of American media companies are said to be in negotiation with Aiplex Software for their services.

Trackerless torrents, anyone?