Send Your Enemy's Printer A DMCA Warning!

As an insider recently told me, one of several ways Comcast is considering tackling excessive consumption (aside from throttling "hogs" and 250GB caps) is to boot users who get more than four DMCA warning letters in a twelve-month period. Comcast might want to reconsider.

While booting pirates is one way to ease congestion, the process currently used to identify and warn them has been shown to be seriously flawed. The companies the entertainment industry uses aren't really accountable to anybody, and they methods they use are suspect.

To drive that point home, researchers this week at the University of Washington released a study that shows that the current DMCA-warning model is not only flawed, but it can be abused to frame other people, or their printers.

By profiling copyright enforcement in the popular BitTorrent file sharing system, we were able to generate hundreds of real DMCA takedown notices for computers at the University of Washington that never downloaded nor shared any content whatsoever. Further, we were able to remotely generate complaints for nonsense devices including several printers and a (non-NAT) wireless access point. Our results demonstrate several simple techniques that a malicious user could use to frame arbitrary network endpoints.

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