updated 05:05 am EDT, Mon May 14, 2012
New system tracks and shuts down infringing torrents
Microsoft has joined with a Russian startup in an effort to crack down on online copyright infringement. The resulting partnership could prove a boon for Hollywood, which has long sought to curtail illegal filesharing on the Web. Pirate Pay, as the startup calls itself, may be the answer to copyright holders' prayers, as it targets torrents directly and takes them down.
Pirate Pay, a play on the name of popular torrent site The Pirate Bay, was funded in part by a $100,000 investment from the Microsoft Seed Financing Fund. How exactly the technology works is a trade secret, but company representatives say it involves sending specific traffic to confuse torrent clients about the real IP addresses of other clients, causing them to disconnect. In test runs, company representatives say the technology halted 44,845 transfers of one copyrighted movie file, though they don't say out of how many total transfers.
The technology represents a departure from the usual route of taking infringers to court, and it could give rights holders a new tool in protecting their intellectual property. Some studies have contended, however, that pirating copyrighted material doesn't always hurt rights holders' revenues, as movies are still successful even when pirated overseas. Microsoft, for its part, has a long history of anti-piracy initiatives, having pushed for legislation on both the state and federal level to protect its intellectual property.