Court: Hollywood gets P2P giant's server logs

Judge shuts down LokiTorrent, as the MPAA launches a new round of suits against film swappers.

John Borland Staff Writer, CNET News.com
John Borland
covers the intersection of digital entertainment and broadband.
John Borland
3 min read
A Dallas federal court has ordered file-swapping site LokiTorrent.com to shut down and provide Hollywood lawyers with access to its full server logs, including data that could expose hundreds of thousands of people to copyright lawsuits.

The Motion Picture Association of America said Thursday that it had won a quick court victory against LokiTorrent, and was launching a new round of actions against other online piracy hubs. The data provided by the onetime file-swapping hub would provide "a roadmap to others who have used LokiTorrent to engage in illegal activities," the trade group said.

Hard numbers on the site's traffic are hard to come by. However, according to researchers at the Delft University of Technology, LokiTorrent was responsible for more than 800,000 downloads in the month of October alone.

MPAA executives said the information could "quite possibly" lead to lawsuits against individuals.

"This should give us information about LokiTorrent visitors who were involved in flagrant piracy of filmed entertainment," said John Malcom, director of worldwide piracy operations for the MPAA. "We are going to look at all the information...and decide what the appropriate action is to take."

Once one of the top stops for people seeking to download movies online, LokiTorrent had publicly thumbed its nose at the MPAA's recent legal assault on it and other BitTorrent-based sites. The site's operators had asked visitors to help fund its legal campaign, and said it had raised more than $30,000.

As part of the court order, the site's operator was asked to pay a settlement fee of close to $1 million.

Like other big BitTorrent sites, LokiTorrent had served as a clearinghouse for links to pirated copies of movies, TV shows, software and music. The site provided access to more than 30,000 different files in October 2004.

For the last several months, the site also benefited from the disappearance of larger peers including SuprNova.org and Youceff.org.

The pressure from the MPAA is shifting use of BitTorrent, which until recently accounted for more data traffic online than any other single application, according to Net monitoring firm CacheLogic.

Traditional file-swapping services, including Morpheus, eDonkey, Shareaza and newcomer Exeem, all have built some level of BitTorrent support into their software. That could let people using the technology avoid the easily targeted Web sites like LokiTorrent.

The MPAA and other Net monitoring services have been able to trace and sue individuals using those and other networks, however.

The Hollywood trade association also said Thursday that law enforcement officials in Austria had taken criminal action against operators of online piracy sites in their country, following similar moves in Hong Kong, Finland, France and the Netherlands.

The group also filed lawsuits against four Web sites that charge visitors subscription fees in return for helping them find copies of copyrighted films. Those sites include Brandnewmovies.com, Moviepros.net, Downloadmuch.com and Downloaditall.com.

LokiTorrent operator Edward Webber did not immediately return calls for comment. Visitors to the Web site on Thursday were confronted with a warning from the MPAA.

"You can click but you can't hide," the message read. "Stealing movies leaves a trail. The only way not to get caught is to stop."