MediaDefender Attacks Revision3, Illuminates Legal Grey Area
MediaDefender is paid by the motion picture and recording industry to defend clients’ intellectual property by going on the offensive. The company launches attacks on the sources of copyrighted material such as BitTorrents and peer file sharing. One common way of doing this is with the dreaded SYN flood, a form of denial-of-service attack. By flooding a server’s SYN queue with requests, the attacker creates a denial-of-service condition for anyone trying to access its files. It’s a sort of pre-emptive strike on pirates.
But is the best defense a good offense? That’s the question being debated ever since the Memorial Day weekend when MediaDefender shut down a legitimate business. Revision3 is a San Francisco based website known for producing the popular DiggNation among others distributing the shows via BitTorrent.
The FBI is currently looking into the Revision3 story. Even attacking known content pirates is considered a legal grey area under current computer security laws. Revision3 CEO Jim Louderback said the attacks shut down its corporate Internet site, RSS server and inter-office email over the long weekend.
The issue brings up serious issues about the legality of a business model like MediaDefender, not to mention the morality of the recording and motion picture industry. Even attacking sites that are known to be engaging in piracy is questionable. Louderback says that if MediaDefender was “…concerned that we were tracking copyrighted material, they should have called us.”
It brings to mind a quote from Nietzsche: He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster.