MPAA gets a taste of its own medicine

Back in October, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) sent letters to presidents of 25 major universities urging them to download their University Toolkit to “help” universities monitor illegal downloads on their network.  As you might expect from the MPAA, this Toolkit seems more aptly categorized as spyware — complete with undocumented functions like phoning home to the MPAA for updates as well as exposing the host network to a possible attack vector by setting up its own Apache web server.

The Toolkit is based on Xubuntu (a derivative of Ubuntu), and as one commenter on Brian Krebs’ post said, “Kinda funny that they chose to use an open source OS and program/programs to do this with.”  But the irony doesn’t end there.  The comments that follow betray a growing realization that perhaps the MPAA included and republished GPL-licensed software without licensing the host application under a GPL-compatible license, as required.

Sure enough, much of the Toolkit’s sources remain secret and unpublished.  Matthew Garrett, an Ubuntu developer, sent a DMCA takedown notice to the MPAA for violating the license  — and forced them to remove the download.  Parry, riposte.


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19 Responses to MPAA gets a taste of its own medicine

  1. This makes my day, to see drones being defeated by intelligence. Plus the fact that I don’t have to worry about my uni’s network going down because of the MPAA’s stupidity is always good.

  2. This makes my day, to see drones being defeated by intelligence. Plus the fact that I don't have to worry about my uni's network going down because of the MPAA's stupidity is always good.

  3. Nice move, and fitting.

    This stuff is kind of hard, on the one hand people should have the right to be paid for their work but on the other there’s this heavy-handedness and just blatant greed of the big industries. Not to say there isn’t greed from the pirates too but they lack the power to really permanently degrade important civil rights like industry backed legislation can.

    I think we need to be prepared to err on the side of the individual though, rather than corporations who chose to do business in mediums that are so susceptible to copyright issues. One of the earliest tenets of our justice system is that it’s better for a hundred guilty to go free than for a single innocent to be wrongly convicted, and already we’ve seen people wrongly subjected to huge burdens based on false accusations by draconian industry rights guardians.

  4. Nice move, and fitting.

    This stuff is kind of hard, on the one hand people should have the right to be paid for their work but on the other there's this heavy-handedness and just blatant greed of the big industries. Not to say there isn't greed from the pirates too but they lack the power to really permanently degrade important civil rights like industry backed legislation can.

    I think we need to be prepared to err on the side of the individual though, rather than corporations who chose to do business in mediums that are so susceptible to copyright issues. One of the earliest tenets of our justice system is that it's better for a hundred guilty to go free than for a single innocent to be wrongly convicted, and already we've seen people wrongly subjected to huge burdens based on false accusations by draconian industry rights guardians.

  5. Now, it would truly be poetic justice if the MPAA was sued, and had to pay fines for each instance of the “University Toolkit” downloaded. Don’t they usually claim $10,000 per violation? That would be a great “taste of your own medicine”!!

  6. Now, it would truly be poetic justice if the MPAA was sued, and had to pay fines for each instance of the “University Toolkit” downloaded. Don’t they usually claim $10,000 per violation? That would be a great “taste of your own medicine”!!

  7. Now, it would truly be poetic justice if the MPAA was sued, and had to pay fines for each instance of the "University Toolkit" downloaded. Don't they usually claim $10,000 per violation? That would be a great "taste of your own medicine"!!

  8. Yeah and that’s $10k for each item of opensource they allowed to be downloaded — so its probably 100k per download at least

  9. Yeah and that's $10k for each item of opensource they allowed to be downloaded — so its probably 100k per download at least

  10. Pingback: College students: The MPAA still hates you