back to article MPAA's uni piracy-busting toolkit forced offline

The Motion Picture Ass. of America (MPAA) has been forced to stop distributing its "University Toolkit" online after just one month because it may violate copyright laws. The attempt to quash movie piracy via BitTorrent was taken offline yesterday. A suite of open source applications was cobbled together to make colleges spy …


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  1. Robert Grant

    A bit OTT

    Come on, I don't like the MPAA either but this article seems pretty badly biased. Bring on the evidence, then judge.

  2. Chris C

    Code modification is irrelevant

    I'd just like to point out that whether MPAA modified the code or not is irrelevant. They distributed it. The GPL states that if you distribute the binary, you must distribute (or offer) the source as well, regardless of whether or not you modify the code.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    we need more icons !

    ... especially one for "I laughed so hard I wet myself, fell off my chair and rolled out of the office down the stairs"

  4. mark carlisle

    egg on face

    and a lot of backpeddling.

    hypocritical plonkers.

  5. cor

    @ Robert

    Hey Robert,

    The article states that the product contains MySQL, ntop, and a few other OSS goodies.

    That's several counts of evidence.

    Judgement anyone..?

  6. P.


    The MPAA should use bittorrent to release their toolkit "into the wild". Piratebay would be a good tracker. :)

  7. Walter Brown
    Black Helicopters

    So it seems

    This is a 'do as i say, not as i do' profiteer bully racket...

  8. Svein Skogen

    Where do we donate?

    Where do we donate to the war-coffers to get the copyright holders for the violated products to push this through the courts? This is a win-win situation. Eighter we get the copywrong mafia for violating their own lobby-sponsored law, or we get the court to declare the DMCA invalid. I fail to see a downside to this. Where do I donate?


  9. Paul Buxton

    Why is anyone bothered about the MPAA?

    They've shot themselves in the foot on so many occasions surely nobody can take them seriously anymore. Could they ever?

    You'd think the MPAA had better things to do anyway; like harrassing 10 year old kids with their army of lawyers.

  10. Dunstan Vavasour

    Boy Scout Curriculum

    Do they really put out a sheet for scouts which starts with the words "Intellectual Property is no different than physical property."?

    We truly have entered the age of 1984 haven't we? Because it suits them they simply assert something which is palpably untrue, and expect people to believe it.

    For the record:

    a) "Intellectual Property" is a meaningless term, used either by muddle headed managers trying to look clever, or by copyright/patent holders who are too lazy or dishonest to be specific

    b) If copyrights were no different "than" physical property, there would be no need for copyright law

    c) If illegal copying is to be considered as morally equivalent to theft, why are the penalties so much more severe?

    Oh, and BTW, piracy is a violent crime which is still prevalent in some parts of the world, often resulting in the death of its victims.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Waters not muddy, changes irrelevant, case open and shut, lawyer incompetent or dishonest.

    The thing about source code changes is utterly irrelevant. If you distribute a GPL program in binary form, you are obliged to ship (or offer to ship) the source. No modifications necessary, no pointing people back upstream, no excuses. The GPL is perfectly clear about this, and if the MPAA's lawyer is incapable of reading and comprehending the bog-standard legalese in the GPL then he's incompetent to do the job he's being paid for.

    (which is A Good Thing really, I suppose!)

  12. Morely Dotes
    Black Helicopters

    Does anyone *really* think this was an accident?

    "security watchers ... said that its default configuration could expose universities' entire network traffic to the internet."

    Wouldn't that be incredibly convenient to the MPAA and RIAA, who want to track the exact usage of torrents that are otherwise not available to them without forcible violation if United States Code Title 18?

    That's no accident. That's a blatant and deliberate attempt to use "social engineering" to disable the Universities' security, for purposes of industrial espionage.

    In my opinion, of course. I could be wrong. And Sarkozy could be Chinese.

  13. Stu

    @Code modification is irrelevant

    I would guess that if the code had been developed under GPL 2, then they could respond to "source requests" with the box-normal ntop, MySQL, blah-blah-blah source and be in compliance. Their code is not (necessarily) under GPL, so it would not be subject to the source reveal, would it?

    If I write MyWayCoolApp for Ubuntu, am I required to supply source for it, legally? I would hope it would depend on what libraries I used, and those libraries' status vis-a-vis GPL.

    It's GPL 3 where "derived works" come into the equation. Have any of the above tools gone to GPL 3?

  14. Dave

    modified code??

    I seem to remember the GPL says something about offering source even without 'modification too'?

    But anywho, if you play follow the links and get to the washington post article..

    Go to this bit:

    "Craig Winter, the MPAA's deputy director for Internet enforcement, said"

    read on a bit...

    "decided to include the update mechanism so that it could ship a new version when developers had fixed what he said was a "bug" in the ntop software"

    Fix a bug? what by modifying source code??

    I think "it beggars belief" is the right phrase isn't it?

    It would be funny if it wasn't so frightening.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    already there....

    i cant believe these universities would even have to run such a 'toolkit' as any university worth its title would have skilled IT folk that can knock up a similar box in next to no time - and, in fact, should have such a box already running on their network.

  16. David Wilkinson

    It also matters how closely the custom code integrates with the GPL code.

    When you use GLP software as a component of a larger program then you may have to GLP the larger program.

    For example if I write a program that uses MySQL and only MySQL as an engine then I have to either have to buy a commercial license or GLP the program.

    Now if I write a program than can access a variety of databases including MySQL then I don't need to worry about those restrictions.

    Now the LGPL license works the way the MPAA lawyers claim. You can use LGPL code in any way you want and never have to GPL the larger program.

    Its a bit more complicated than that and better explained elsewhere.

  17. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    Some clarifications

    @Stu: Derived works are, and have always been, covered by the GPL.

    Also, a quote from the GNU GPL FAQ:

    "If you choose to provide source through a written offer, then anybody who requests the source from you is entitled to receive it.

    "If you commercially distribute binaries not accompanied with source code, the GPL says you must provide a written offer to distribute the source code later. When users non-commercially redistribute the binaries they received from you, they must pass along a copy of this written offer. This means that people who did not get the binaries directly from you can still receive copies of the source code, along with the written offer.

    "The reason we require the offer to be valid for any third party is so that people who receive the binaries indirectly in that way can order the source code from you."

    If you do not include the source code with the product, you must provide a written offer to supply the code. Simple as. Whether or not you modified it.

    The GPL mostly seems to apply to distibution. If you pass it on to someone else, you must follow the license. If you keep it to yourself you can do what you want with it. So by merely distibuting it, they must include either the source code, or a written offer to supply the source code.

    Now this may seem picky, but think about how anal MPAA/RIAA etc are. Ubuntu arent saying "you cant use it", they are saying "you must comply with the license". Personaly, I think MPAA need a taste of their own medicine.

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