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New Firefox extension turns Amazon.com into illegal free-for-all

A new Firefox extension adds Pirate Bay BitTorrent links to product pages on Amazon.com, putting the retailer in a tough position.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
2 min read

A new Firefox extension called Pirates of the Amazon lets users download movies, games, TV shows, and MP3s free of charge by cross referencing Amazon's product pages with torrent files from the Pirate Bay.

If the content can be found on the Pirate Bay's search index it shows up as a "Download 4 Free" link on the top of the Amazon product page. This links directly to the hosted .torrent tracker file, letting the user avoid having to make a purchase from Amazon in place of acquiring it illegally via BitTorrent.

The extension developer's site, along with the link to download the software is currently offline. The extension made the front page of Digg a few hours ago, which is likely what took the site out (not legal intervention). I've contacted Amazon to see if the company is making any efforts to block the extension but have not heard back yet. As it stands, the extension still works, albeit without the "Download 4 Free" thumbnail, which is hosted on the developer's servers.

As blog Torrentfreak notes, this is a really bad time for such an extension. Piracy continues to be a huge problem for movies, music albums, and PC games. Amazon's online MP3 store is one of the least expensive places to legally purchase DRM-free music, and this extension manages to make it that much simpler to pirate. It also coincides with a time of year when online retailers are getting an increase in traffic due to holiday sales.

That said, anyone who knows how to pirate content probably did not need this to continue their habit.

A similar add-on is available for IMDB users from Userscripts.org that cross references movie titles with torrent sites to find copies of films online. Despite its clear lean toward piracy, I'd argue that one of its more useful features it is to track down subtitle files, which can provide translations in smaller countries where the content might be legally available but not localized.

Below is a demo of how the extension works. Expect the developer's site, along with the download links to be back up later today.

Pirates of the Amazon screencast from pirates_of_the_amazon on Vimeo.