A new study from the University of Washington suggests that media industry trade groups are using flawed tactics in their investigations of users who violate copyrights on peer-to-peer file sharing networks.
Those trade groups, including the Motion Picture Association of America (M.P.A.A.) Entertainment Software Association (E.S.A.) and Recording Industry Association of America (R.I.A.A.), send universities and other network operators an increasing number of takedown notices each year, alleging that their intellectual property rights have been violated under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Many universities pass those letters directly on to students without questioning the veracity of the allegations. The R.I.A.A. in particular follows up some of those notices by threatening legal action and forcing alleged file-sharers into a financial settlement.
But the study, released Thursday by Tadayoshi Kohno, an assistant professor, Michael Piatek a graduate student, and Arvind Krishnamurthy, a research assistant professor, all at the University of Washington, argues that perhaps those takedown notices should be viewed more skeptically.
The paper finds that there is a serious flaw in how these trade groups finger alleged file-sharers. It also suggests that some people might be getting improperly accused of sharing copyrighted content, and could even be purposely framed by other users.