Anti-piracy group wants to legally deploy rootkits against pirates

By on May 27, 2013, 3:30 PM
anti-piracy, piracy, copyright

In a new example of the entertainment industry’s disconnect with reality and their overreaching tactics, an anti-piracy group known as the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property has issued a 89-page report in which they cite billions of dollars in losses, and suggest a wide variety of measures to combat this nuisance -- like legalizing the use of malware to punish suspected offenders.

The group says that copyright holders should be allowed to take more assertive action against intellectual property thieves. And though they start off with seemingly reasonable requests like allowing a file to be rendered inaccessible if the user gained access to it illegally, it quickly scales to something resembling ramsomware.

The scheme calls for software to be pre-installed on users’ computers to identify whether they are illegally copying, storing or consuming copyrighted content. From there a number of scenarios are proposed, such as locking down your computer up and taking all your files hostage until you contact law enforcement to face the consequences. This is supposed to “stabilize a cyber incident” and provide time to gather evidence against you.

That’s just scratching the surface, though. More drastic measures mentioned in the report include the ability to infiltrate a network to retrieve or destroy the stolen files, snapping a picture of the offender using his or her webcam, and even physically disabling or destroying the hacker’s own computer or network. None of this is currently permitted under US law but the commission would like to see that amended to allow defensive action.

It should be mentioned that the report has a strong focus on foreign threats and goes beyond just piracy by attempting to thwart hacking and economic espionage on US companies. The problem -- aside from giving the entertainment industry an unprecedented amount of power -- is that it doesn’t draw a clear distinction between the theft of corporate trade secrets and more casual piracy such as torrenting a TV show or movie.

Header image via Shutterstock




User Comments: 64

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5 people like this | Captain555 said:

I wouldn't want to see what the pirates will do to them if they ever try this.

3 people like this | Guest said:

I wonder If totalitarian means anything to these people?

BlueDrake said:

I can see the reasons of protecting their IP, but going to these extremes is a bit far reaching. Physically damaging things is very extreme, and well worth avoiding if at all possible. They are grasping at anything possible to restrict piracy, in any imaginable way and it's going to be a serious backlash.

If such things are pushed forward as a possible answer to piracy, yes it's going to "hurt" pirates according to them. Just are you going to justify that kind of underhanded tactic, simply because you're left with no alternative? It's clear they don't want to work with others, in actually finding a better solution but rather do it their own way.

They label all sorts of things as piracy but is it our fault, they region lock and otherwise impede potential customers? That's just like saying you can get something, but only if you're from x location and can only use in x country. Locking out potential customers is a terrible idea, and also overcharging is a good way to upset a user base. Especially in the digital market, where there are no actual physical distance between us.

2 people like this | NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

Lol, ruin someone's pc because they download the next disney movie for free

Seems legit.

4 people like this | veLa veLa said:

Plain and simple, if you access my computer without permission I'll do the same to yours except far more destructively.

Tygerstrike said:

I can understand their frustration in dealing with piracy. These ppl are loosing money and everyone seems to be turning a blind eye to the problem. What I mean is they admit ppl are pirating, but other then full in-depth investigations into individual accounts, nothing much can be done. So Im sure you all can understand that these ppl are pissed that the money they SHOULD be getting they arent. So yea, maybe a bit of draconian tactics maybe nessasary.

Digital Piracy has been a sore spot for these companies for a very long time. Everytime they DO try and give alternate forms of use, ppl play nice for a bit then go right back to piracy. As a retail manager I can empathize with them. It would be like having ppl come right into my store and stealing whatever they wanted and the police hold the door for them. They are upset and they are missing monies that are rightfully theirs. It may take more drastic measures to get ppl to stop pirating. But if they do impliment them, ppl have no one to blame but themselves in this instance.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I once knifed my own tire. The fact that I had placed the tire on someone else's car, landed me community service. You cannot do damage to anyone else's property, it's even illegal to damage your own property under certain conditions. There is no way in hell this will pass legislation. The same laws that prevent server take downs, will protect personal PC's against attacks like this from becoming legal.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I think we should take a multi-pronged approach to combat pervasive moral laxity and illegality in all of it's most insidious forms.

First, bring back "Prohibition". Deny these godless downloaders the devil's brew. That'll make them think with a clearer head before infringing on anyone's sacred intellectual property.

Second, initiate no tolerance enforcement the "Mann Act" once again, even between married individuals. This will prevent heathens in heat from traveling to another state and hooking up to the music of illegally ripped mix CDs.

And finally third, make running around with your a** hanging out of your pants a capital offense (*). Will that curb illegal downloading? Probably not. But I think most of us are sick of looking at it anyway. I know I sure am....

(*) Individuals caught with low hanging trousers should not be given the benefit of constitutional protection from cruel and unusual punishment. Put them in front of a firing squad, and give the law abiding citizens benefit of their last request. Mine would be, "make them listen to country music for at least an hour, then shoot 'em":p

3 people like this | Guest said:

I have a better, almost surreal tactic, better prices.

1 person liked this | ReederOnTheRun ReederOnTheRun said:

I can't see them passing any of that radical stuff, but if they did; I'd imagine it wouldn't be long before pirates came up with a workaround to avoid getting caught. As long as it is a free country, there is no way to really stop piracy. Someone will always find a way around it and spread the word.

And thank god for that. :-)

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

Just don't give out free download trials and, beta testing should be kept in-house. Otherwise it open house for these guys.

Guest said:

Let's shut the internet down, get rid of google, go back to am frequencies, put chip in everybody's heads and stay dormant.

Guest said:

I would like to meet the actual human beings who are responsible for nonsense like this. They've gotta be the most giantest morons on the face of the planet. "I got an idea Jim, what if we f*ck up people's computers that download music, that'll stop em." "Good idea Bob, let's get get our lobbyists on it right away"

Even if my computer came with this preloaded virus crap on it I could think of 15 or 20 different ways around it. I think this is the major fact that these folks miss. I think that fundamentally they don't understand the technology behind downloading stuff. They're thinking like this is a physical problem they can solve. An analogy would be car theft. These people are trying to design a better "club" steering wheel lock. They fail to realize though that no matter what they create someone will figure out a way around it. Us nerds are a helluva lot smarter than they are.

The real solution to the problem of people illegally downloading media lies in figuring out a better business model. These old folks don't understand that it isn't the 60's anymore and that producing and selling albums as a business model died off at least 10 years ago. So listen up RIAA/MPAA, your business model is completely dead. We no longer need you to produce, package, or distribute music anymore. We don't need any part of your business model. You need us. Figure out a better business model. And I'm sorry but songs for $1.29 on Itunes just isn't working either. The industry needs to change. We as people don't.

And the day that my devices come with a pre-loaded virus is the day the nerds revolt.

Guest said:

If I wrote software, I would have done this for years now. I would FLOOD all major torrent sites, all warez sites, and file trading sites with my software with additional variations of malware and such. Screws up someones PC? sucks to be you, pay me for my work next time then.

Guest said:

US will be officially the most stupid country if this BS get passed. Stupid American. Go die.

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

If I wrote software, I would have done this for years now. I would FLOOD all major torrent sites, all warez sites, and file trading sites with my software with additional variations of malware and such. Screws up someones PC? sucks to be you, pay me for my work next time then.

One thing doing that. It's another thing being an organisation trying to pass this into law. They are painting a VERY large target on themselves.

Guest said:

Getting pretty tired of modern media - all flash and little substance. And it's becoming increasingly apparent that digital puts too much power in the hands of soulless technocrats. I guess it's back to good old-fashioned paper books for me. I get a lot more out of them anyway. The best way to send a message to these greedy-dumbs is with our wallets.

Adhmuz Adhmuz, TechSpot Paladin, said:

"The scheme calls for software to be pre-installed on users? computers to identify whether they are illegally copying, storing or consuming copyrighted content." You'll have to pry it from my cold dead fingers first you filthy bastards! Really, do they think they can do this? What are they injecting between their toes, cause I want some. How delusional can an individual be as to actually suggest something so god damn invasive and pervasive as this. So what, this would have to be installed on every computer in the US, because thats going to stop the global piracy epidemic they claim is the cause for their financial downfall. It's almost like listening to that bum on the corner ramble on about government conspiracy and how god will save us all from our sins... right. The saddest part is, even if Windows was to side with this in any way, Linux will be the solution.

1 person liked this | MilwaukeeMike said:

So some wacky group wants some terribly extreme law passed and we're worried about it? This is so off-the-wall crazy that the creators of this idea wouldn't even get a meeting with anyone close to a legislator. No matter how powerful you think some lobbyist is, no political figure would go within a mile of this idea just for the RISK of getting their named attached to it.

Don't get worked up over this one... save it for something real.

Cycloid Torus Cycloid Torus said:

Some one else's intelligent thought (read elsewhere), perhaps RIAA/MPAA is just inflating the ideas so that they can be knocked down. Then they can come back with a 'modest' proposal - like 'phone home' IP/MAC ID so they can pursue some more of those nasty pirates in new ways.

It probably grieves them that they have this constant drain of 5%-15% (they know they exaggerate) in real piracy. It's too much like taxes AND they think they can actually do something about it..or some of the blokes do ...or they say they do in order to keep their jobs..there are probably a good sized bunch facing 'right-sizing' if they don't.

m4a4 m4a4 said:

Pre-install something on a computer? How stupid can you be?? They will just crack that too!

And anyone/anything online associated with this will probably be brought down by people like anonymous...

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

I have a better, almost surreal tactic, better prices.

Wont work.

Guest said:

They seem just as bad as pirates.

blackshadow2007 said:

I can't help but think some group like Anonymous would rain down a Sh*t storm over something like this...

JC713 JC713 said:

Well 90% of torrents have viruses, so... lol.

Guest said:

This is why I'm glad I preach "reformat that piece of shit" the second I hear someone bought a computer from a store and didn't build their own. theres enough preinstalled garbage on store bought pcs as it is lol

Guest said:

The oppressed becoming the oppressor, what a cyclical cycle. The more things change the more the stay the same.

oberonqa oberonqa said:

M4a4 said: "Pre-install something on a computer? How stupid can you be?? They will just crack that too!"

This pretty much sums up why such draconian measures are being considered. Every anti-piracy method that has been tried has either been cracked or decried by the media as being too limiting. Heck... sometimes it's both (look no further than Ubisoft to see the proof of this).

Maybe such draconian measures are needed... after all it seems like people aren't going to stop any other way.

Oh and the tools that say piracy doesn't hurt the companies because they wouldn't have purchased the movie ticket/dvd/video game/music cd, etc for <whatever reason> is just asinine. If you got busted for stealing something from a grocery store, do you try to get out of it by saying "I couldn't afford it, but I still want it so it's ok for me to steal it since your not loosing any money anyway". Seriously folks... grow up. We live in a mercantile society... where one barters for what one wants (or needs). Until the day comes that we find ourselves living as citizens of the United Federation of Planets (read: utopian society), it is NEVER going to be acceptable to get something without trading something else for it.

All the rationalizations in the world doesn't change the fact that if you download Iron Man 3 instead of paying for it, you are pirating. Don't blow smoke up my you-know-what about how your not a Marvel fan and wouldn't have paid to see the money so Disney/Marvel isn't loosing any money... because it's obvious you WANTED to see the movie... you just didn't want to PAY to see it. Otherwise why spend the time downloading it and then watching it? Same logic can be applied to anything that is pirated. You WANT <fill in the blank>.... you just don't want to PAY for it. At least be honest and admit your a pirate and not hide being ridiculous rationalizations that couldn't even be used to talk your way out of a shoplifting charge.

I say if such draconian measures finally brings an end to piracy, then bring it on. The only people that would have a problem are the people that would be negatively affected by the presence of such measures.

RzmmDX said:

Give me more money so I can buy stuff, IT'S THE PERFECT PLAN.

Guest said:

Why dont they understand that those who torrent would have likely have never purchased it in the first place!! They seemingly multiply the number of downloads with the RRP of the content and say thats how much thry are losing... I for one would have never got 99% of what I've downloaded if torrenting didnt exist/I had to pay. In terms of money, thy are 'losing' no where near the billions they claim

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

Lets not provide a way to allow people to legally watch our stuff, let's infect them with viruses instead!

Duckula22 Duckula22 said:

Ha!

{The scheme calls for software to be pre-installed on users? computers to identify whether they are illegally copying, storing or consuming copyrighted content.}

Like I'm not going to format that newly bought laptop's hard drive the very same day I bought it.

spydercanopus spydercanopus said:

Ha!

{The scheme calls for software to be pre-installed on users? computers to identify whether they are illegally copying, storing or consuming copyrighted content.}

Like I'm not going to format that newly bought laptop's hard drive the very same day I bought it.

They will be infecting the media they sell, so if you play a blu-ray, you'll get the root-kit and they'll look on your computer for pirated stuff.

Guest said:

It seems the only way to stop piracy is to stop internet...

...and that is not happening...

I really liked this post:

"They label all sorts of things as piracy but is it our fault, they region lock and otherwise impede potential customers? That's just like saying you can get something, but only if you're from x location and can only use in x country. Locking out potential customers is a terrible idea, and also overcharging is a good way to upset a user base. Especially in the digital market, where there are no actual physical distance between us."

Duckula22 Duckula22 said:

They will be infecting the media they sell, so if you play a blu-ray, you'll get the root-kit and they'll look on your computer for pirated stuff.

All the more reason not to buy crap that risks infecting my system with something. Makes it waiting until some warez group deals with the annoyance even more attractive, they'd be actually sort of pushing me towards piracy if they they took the Starforce approach.

At any rate, they'd be fu(king up a virtual machine that runs from a virtual hard drive that is physically stored on an encrypted volume.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I can't help but think some group like Anonymous would rain down a Sh*t storm over something like this...
I only hope they don't do something stupid before hand.

Xclusiveitalian Xclusiveitalian said:

If this got passed I think every hacker in the world would unite just to destroy their company from the ground up.

Cycloid Torus Cycloid Torus said:

I say if such draconian measures finally brings an end to piracy, then bring it on. The only people that would have a problem are the people that would be negatively affected by the presence of such measures.

Can 't quite agree. Spent 5 hours re-installing Win7 on a new hard drive, but was not allowed to register my totally legal copy because it couldn't find the old O/S (on my dead drive). Several hoops later, I felt like a trained dog...so I had to complete it the next day with a chat with some helpful fella in India or someplace.

I guess that makes me one of those "people that would be negatively affected by the presence of such measures."

I also recall a DRM which 'infected' my system (I think it was with love from Ubisoft) and the difficulty I had getting my system back to where I wanted it.

I don't know what the right answer is, but I don't buy Ubisoft games anymore.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

Lol
Dude, this is some heavy s*** here! You just can't summarily "LOL" at it.

mrcavooter mrcavooter said:

Dude, this is some heavy s*** here! You just can't summarily "LOL" at it.

ROFL

1 person liked this | captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

ROFL

Oh no you did-ent!

1 person liked this | mrcavooter mrcavooter said:

I'm simply stating that the basis of this is hilarious. There is no way this would ever be implemented. Pull your panties out of your mangina.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

There are no panties bunched up in my "mangina". First, we're going commando, and second I'm just the cook. Stir the pot, that's my job

I'm simply stating that the basis of this is hilarious. There is no way this would ever be implemented. Pull your panties out of your mangina.
I beg to differ. This actually was done by Sony, who DID put rootkits in some of their CDs, masquerading as simple copy protection.

M$ bought this detection tool: [link] from the gentleman, (Mark Russinovich), who wrote it, in response to Sony's hi-jinx!

Nobody went to jail at Sony over this issue. Either the execs were beyond the reach of the law, or it isn't actually illegal, or only marginally so.

But I concede, that under current statutes which make breaking somebody's computer with malware illegal, this is a real gray area.

In a new example of the entertainment industry's disconnect with reality and their overreaching tactics, an anti-piracy group known as the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property has issued a 89-page report in which they cite billions of...
Wow, 89 pages is it now! This corroborates that old adage, "if you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bulls***" !

89 pages is a lot of shoveling boys and girls, and it be time to crack out the hip boots too.....

1 person liked this | Guest said:

"US will be officially the most stupid country if this BS get passed. Stupid American. Go die."

Already is.

The people who suggest these things should either be hanged or imprisoned.

Stupid waste of time and energy.

Piracy is not an important issue. . .

War is.

Hunger is.

Disease is.

Poverty is.

Environmentalism is.

Anti-corruption is.

Codepimp Codepimp said:

The Internet is Free and so is everything on it...its was born out of our Taxes, and lets keep it that way

treetops treetops said:

How much did they pay to get pirating paper clipped on this bill? And people wonder why most users feel zero guilt about pirating. It is insane that you face a stiffer penalty for pirating a online movie as opposed to physically stealing one from a store.

captaincranky

sagging pants, maybe we should all go back to wearing wigs, not sure which is more silly, showing your underwear kinda fits in with a baboon flaring its red ass around, maybe were finally catching up to them or the latter, devolving?

Guest said:

I download things I have no intention of buying so they are not missing my money.

If I do download a game and enjoy it then I buy it to play it online simple as and as for movies, If I didn't download then I'd just wait till it cam on Sky TV.

avoidz avoidz said:

Sony already tried this and look where it got them. It this goes through, I hope they are prepared for the whiplash from the backlash.

Dukenukemx Dukenukemx said:

The moment that happens I will switch over to Linux. I know Linux isn't exempt from having rootkits and malware, but Linux evolves so quickly that the rootkit authors couldn't keep up. Or the company dumb enough to hire people to make them wouldn't be able to afford it.

It's much easier to make ransom-ware when 90% of the people are using Windows. I'd like to see them try that on Mac. I'm sure the Apple lawyers would love it.

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