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09 July 2007, 13:57

Media Defender responds to allegations of entrapment

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Anti-piracy company Media Defender has responded to recent allegations that they set up an entrapment movie download site ( In an interview with Ars Technica, Randy Saaf, CEO of Media Defender, stated "MediaDefender was working on an internal project that involved video and didn't realize that people would be trying to go to it and so we didn't password-protect the site,", and declared that it had "nothing to do with anti-piracy" or entrapment. He added that the MPAA was uninvolved and had no knowledge of the site. When asked why the site was taken down so swiftly after it was publicised, he replied that Media Defender was concerned about being hacked due to the very high profile the rumours about had gained.

ZeroPaid, who originally reported the site, remain sceptical, as do many others among the huge community that has picked up on these events. However much confusion still reigns about the details.Particularly, no copy of the trojan has so far surfaced for analysis.

A paper by Ars Technica available on Media Defender's own web site describes their services. These seem to fall into four main categories: the serving of fake content (decoying), intercepting and redirecting P2P requests to dead ends (spoofing), denial of service to media servers (interdiction), insertion of bad chunks in P2P media streams (swarming). None of these techniques have anything in common with the supposed web site, so it would have been a new departure for Media Defender had they set it up for the alleged purpose, and therefore might well have been in the nature of an experiment.

However there are also other possibilities. The same paper states "Last year, the company partnered with Jay-Z and Coke in a widely-covered promotion that saw MediaDefender pushing a legitimate piece of Jay-Z concert footage to fans who searched for videos by the artist. In essence, these are "decoys" that contain real content." It goes on to point out that the same organisation simultaneously offering legal and illegal content on P2P networks could be problematic, and asks "How are users to know in advance if content is legal or not? Are some labels actually encouraging the use of such networks, even as their trade groups prosecute those who use them? Does serving legitimate content show confusion about what can and cannot be shared and downloaded?" After the recent events, these are probably extremely important questions for the whole community: media producers and consumers alike.

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