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Torrentspy Disables Searching For US IPs 277

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the everyones-favorite-pariah dept.
dr_strang writes "Torrent indexing site Torrentspy.com appears to have disabled torrent searches for IPs that originate in the United States. Instead of a results page, users are directed to this page, which states: 'Torrentspy Acts to Protect Privacy. Sorry, but because you are located in the USA you cannot use the search features of the Torrentspy.com website. Torrentspy's decision to stop accepting US visitors was NOT compelled by any Court but rather an uncertain legal climate in the US regarding user privacy and an apparent tension between US and European Union privacy laws."
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Torrentspy Disables Searching For US IPs

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  • tor (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wpegden (931091) on Monday August 27, 2007 @01:12PM (#20373593)
    Did someone say tor [eff.org]?
    • by rrkap (634128)
      Tor looks cool, but how much additional network traffic to you get from using it and how much of a speed hit do you take?
      • Re:tor (Score:5, Informative)

        by FlyByPC (841016) on Monday August 27, 2007 @01:37PM (#20373863) Homepage
        Searching shouldn't take too long. Basically you're submitting a small string and asking for a fairly simple HTML page as a response. You can live with even moderate to bad inefficiency if the request is small enough.

        I wouldn't want to try to download the latest Ubuntu DVD via TOR, though; that might be more of a problem. But that's what BitTorrent is for, anyway.
      • Re:tor (Score:5, Informative)

        by kebes (861706) on Monday August 27, 2007 @01:49PM (#20374043) Journal
        Keep in mind that in this case you don't even have to use TOR for the actual torrent. You only need to use a proxy for the short time necessary to do a search on torrentspy and download the .torrent. After that, you can join the torrent in the usual way. After all, torrentspy only tracks torrents: it has no control over the swarm or what connections the swarm allows/blocks.

        So, instead of a search taking 1 second it would take 3 seconds. The actual download would be just as fast. (That is, assuming you were willing to download a torrent without TOR before this block, then this block doesn't change your actual download speed.)

        Also note that an easier solution is to switch to using a torrent tracker which does not block US users. For instance trackers not in the US (e.g. Pirate Bay) will probably not have any reason to block US users. In fact a tracker like Pirate Bay could mirror all of TorrentSpy's contents. Although this recent development is interesting, it will have little to no impact on the amount of downloading (or the ease of downloading) that goes on.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by AndersOSU (873247)
          So if MediaSentry circumvented this protection method using the technique you describe, in order to "monitor" copyright infringement, we could sue them under the DMCA?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by The13thSin (1092867)
      That, or use one of the (crappy) free proxies around... or go to a torrent site that's not based in the US... or... dare I say: Usenet?
      • Re:tor (Score:5, Funny)

        by xtracto (837672) on Monday August 27, 2007 @01:46PM (#20374003) Journal
        or... dare I say: Usenet?

        So, why would you like to to run upon usenet? Do you plan to start a big flamewar about the Torrentspy blocking or anything?

        something tells me you wont be desired there!.
        • Re:tor (Score:5, Funny)

          by blahlemon (638963) on Monday August 27, 2007 @02:42PM (#20374613)
          Most people don't participate in tasteless and foolish events like flamewars unless they need the approval of others. Yes, it happens at times but I'm sure it's never planned that way by Slashdot posters!
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Usenet?

        We do not speak of such things here. For It is heresy, and your irreverance will be dealt with swift and mercilessly.

        You shall be stripped of your geek status, forced into the Windows ME support team in a non-english speaking country, and banned from /. for eternity.

        Let your brethren never forgive you, and may GOD have mercy on your UserID.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The first rule of Usenet: Don't talk about Usenet. The second rule of Usenet: Don't talk about Usenet. Understand?
        • Actually, from what I've seen in the past few years (with few exceptions), the first rule of Usenet is "don't post anything on Usenet any more."

          • ...the first rule of Usenet is "don't post anything on Usenet any more."

            OK, but how do you know? How can anybody know?

            Theoretically, Newzbin can help me find binaries, but the search function is pretty basic. If you're looking for something without a known, reasonably rare text string in the file name in a known format, then you'll inevitably wind up with nothing or thousands of hits. Newzbin also refuses to index binaries posted to non-binary groups; I realize that's something that shouldn't happe

    • by mikem170 (698970)
      I don't know if there is any control over where traffic exits the tor network. Maybe hit-or-miss would get you there from the right place eventually.

      Another cool idea would be to use proxy servers in China!
      • The Tor Client gives you a fair amount of control over which nodes you use. Without even playing with the source code, you can select the fastest servers and only allow them into your chain. That would theoretically increase the odds that an attacker could some how track your web usage (fewer nodes == less anonymity), but if they can do that, they probably already have other methods available.

        When your chain of nodes includes two multi-megabit nodes and a 15k node, the two multi-megabit nodes don't do y
    • by djdbass (1037730)
      Brilliant!

      I wonder how long it will take the **IAA to realize all they have to do is say they've blocked something, and then over @ slashdot is some genious showing the latest get-a-round...

      Some of you know-it-alls couldn't keep a secret in a secret-tight box.
      Security Experts??!?
      • by shmlco (594907)
        "... some genious [sic] showing the latest get-a-round."

        That is so funny on so many levels.
    • Bad attempt at humor.

      I just wish the tor network remained for normal surfing anonymously and not warez.

    • by MS-06FZ (832329)

      Did someone say tor [eff.org]?
      Did someone say, "TIME FOR GO TO BED!"?
  • by bconway (63464) on Monday August 27, 2007 @01:13PM (#20373597) Homepage
    Nothing for you to see here. Please move along.

    Seems I just can't win with searches anywhere today.
  • The Obvious Reason (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Monday August 27, 2007 @01:14PM (#20373617) Journal

    Torrentspy's decision to stop accepting US visitors was NOT compelled by any Court but rather an uncertain legal climate in the US regarding user privacy and an apparent tension between US and European Union privacy laws.
    From the Wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] (and as linked on the related Slashdot articles):

    On May 29, 2007, A federal judge ordered TorrentSpy to begin monitoring its users' activities and to submit these logs to the Motion Picture Association of America. TorrentSpy's attorney, Ira Rothken, has stated that TorrentSpy would likely turn off access to U.S. users before it started monitoring anyone, since such monitoring is in violation of TorrentSpy's own privacy policy.[1] As of August 24, 2007, TorrentSpy has been closed to United States users.
    Looks like they finally got around to it ... although it wasn't ordered by a judge, a US judge certainly left them no choice.

    I wonder if this can be accessed from the United States through Tor [eff.org].

    I also wonder if I have to start worrying about other sites blocking American users simply out of fear & safety from the United States MPAA/RIAA run court system? I used to feel sorry for Chinese people who had to suffer from their government's censorship and now I have to wonder if I'm going to start suffering from other servers censoring me based on my government's actions.
    • by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Monday August 27, 2007 @01:38PM (#20373871)

      I also wonder if I have to start worrying about other sites blocking American users simply out of fear & safety from the United States MPAA/RIAA run court system?

      That would potentially be fantastic. If we can make Congress understand that excessive copyright and patent regimes put the U.S. at a technological / competitive disadvantage, that's part of the war in getting change.

      Of course, Congress might be just as likely to respond in some insane, drunken, counter-productive way as well, which is why I used the word "problematic" above.

    • by ExE122 (954104) *
      I don't think "censorship" is the right term here. The site was brought down to protect the end user's information from being given to the MPAA, not to block information that the user can reach. While you might say, "same difference", it probably changes the strategy of the legal recoil that is about to take place. This actually becomes a battle of privacy protection vs. copyright enforcement. This means TorrentSpy could potentially get a lot of support from privacy advocates.

      But yes, the way the rul
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by adrianbaugh (696007)
      So if you feel strongly enough about it, kick out the government and elect one better suited to your wishes. Oh, I forgot, although you get the choice between 2 parties both of them are almost exactly the same...
    • by MoogMan (442253)
      In Soviet Russia, sites censor you!!

      Wait, what?
  • by superpulpsicle (533373) on Monday August 27, 2007 @01:16PM (#20373629)
    Someone create a privatized wiki-torrent where people can put up their own torrents. That way you can never be sued cause you're not responsible for the contents.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by theantipop (803016)

      That way you can never be sued
      Need I remind you how, *ahem*, flexible the US legal system is?
    • by dslauson (914147) on Monday August 27, 2007 @01:41PM (#20373935) Journal

      Someone create a privatized wiki-torrent where people can put up their own torrents. That way you can never be sued cause you're not responsible for the contents.
      Ummm, there's really no such thing as "can never be sued because of". In the U.S., anybody can sue anybody for anything. Sure, maybe a case will hold no water and will get thrown right out of court, but you'd still probably have a pretty damn good lawyer on retainer before you try something like this in the States, because somehow I don't see the **AA saying, "Oh, well. The guy's got a Wiki. There's nothing we can do."
      • Several people have lost lawsuits for posting links to sites that had links to software that was deemed illegal. Yeah, double indirection and the court still ruled against them. I wouldn't be surprised if an american court was willing to find you guilty for thinking about linking to a torrent linking to pieces of a file.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by brunascle (994197)
      how would that be any different than sites like torrentspy? they're basically just search engines. they dont host the content, and some dont even host the .torrent files.
    • by Borealis (84417)
      IANAL but as I understand it, the Napster decision pretty much boinked them because the primary purpose of Napster was to facilitate infringement. Given the precedent, I don't think it would be a stretch to assume that a site dedicated to putting up torrents even as a wiki would be immune from litigation. It's important to remember also that even if the case is eventually won by a private wiki, the legal costs of defending yourself is not inconsequential and is beyond the reach of most citizens.

      That's rea
  • In other news.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by micksam7 (1026240) on Monday August 27, 2007 @01:16PM (#20373637)
    Non-US proxy usage skyrockets globally.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 27, 2007 @01:16PM (#20373641)
    How am I supposed to support artists if I can't steal their work? Buy CDs and movies?
    • Go see them at the bar, buy them a drink if you like what they are playing. Buy a CD at a release party. Give copies to your friends, who if they like them will also then go to their shows and buy their promotional CDs.
      • by gosand (234100)
        Go see them at the bar, buy them a drink if you like what they are playing. Buy a CD at a release party. Give copies to your friends, who if they like them will also then go to their shows and buy their promotional CDs.


        Assuming of course that those artists you like are playing near you (unlikely) at a bar (more unlikely) and have CD release parties (huh?). Stop trying to fit every artist into your business model!!!!

  • by Deagol (323173) on Monday August 27, 2007 @01:25PM (#20373747) Homepage
    The more popular tor gets, and the more traffic in the network, the better it'll be for the entire 'net. One click of the my "tor" option under "FoxyProxy", and I was able to submit searches no problem.
    • Do you get several failed requests before a successful one? The tor exit node would have to be outside the US, so I imagine there must be many failed queries for every success.
      • by pla (258480) on Monday August 27, 2007 @02:22PM (#20374391) Journal
        Do you get several failed requests before a successful one? The tor exit node would have to be outside the US, so I imagine there must be many failed queries for every success.

        Thanks to a cultural obsession with (fighting) child porn in the US, I would expect just the opposite - No sane American would allow exit connections unless they had high enough 3rd party traffic to claim basically no control over or knowledge of the vast majority of the content (ie, an ISP, and they rarely give anything away).

        And if the real feds don't ruin you, Dateline will, regardless of the actual facts. I can just about hear the announcement: "Up next, the newest threat to your children: We put 250 megs of fake child porn on a website, and found we could retrieve it anonymously with a new program for terrorists called Tor. We've hunted down, had fired, and forwarded evidence to the DA about the beast running this smut ring, known perversely as 'Exit Node'.
  • by Valacosa (863657) on Monday August 27, 2007 @01:29PM (#20373789)
    I was afraid that the lockout would affect Canada too, but it works just fine for me. So yeah, they have the whole localizing IP addresses thing down pat.

    In related news, I get a banner add offering to help me "Find my real sex partner in WATERLOO". But how will Americans find their "real sex partners" without this valuable service?
  • by Tweekster (949766)
    I never understood why people get all excited about the piratebay and torrentspy. They are shitty trackers filled with horribly named, low quality garbage.
    • by Bucc5062 (856482)
      Would you be so kind as to point out high quality, well named, and sweet trackers? It is not helpful to knock a product without naming an alternative. Just think of the karma you'll get
    • by pla (258480)
      I never understood why people get all excited about the piratebay and torrentspy. They are shitty trackers filled with horribly named, low quality garbage.

      For the same reason the US fought in Vietnam and Korea, and imposed sanctions on Cuba in the first place (though we seem to have forgotten the "why" of that one, considering that the former Soviet Union collapsed quite a few years ago now).

      If you can trick your enemy into attacking a strawman rather than your real vulnerabilities, you pretend to defe
    • by julesh (229690)
      Because they're public trackers. Because public trackers are just so much easier to use than private ones.

      OK, I'm a member of a special-interest private tracker, but when I can download a file from a public one instead, I use it. Why? Because I don't have to worry about my upload ratios. In fact, downloading from a public tracker, I usually have ratios of 1.1 or so by the time I finish downloading. But with private trackers that have penalties for not uploading enough, I find I normally have to share a
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I know it's lame to be using AOL in the first place, but it would be nice if they were using a decent geo-ip list.
    • by Grishnakh (216268)
      Why bother? It's easier to just block *.aol.com.

      After all, the name is AOL: AMERICA On-Line. What the hell are you using that for in the UK?

      If you're dumb enough to use AOL in another country, you deserve all the restrictions and other downsides that the rest of us Americans have to deal with. You're right across a small pond from Holland, the land of freedom. Why the hell would you want to ally yourself with restrictive American corporate interests?

  • Move along (Score:5, Informative)

    by scruff323 (840369) on Monday August 27, 2007 @01:52PM (#20374067)
    Isohunt, Demonoid, The Pirate Bay, Mininova, (reincarnated) Suprnova. Shall I go on?
    • I'm actually a big fan of btjunkie, not a tracker itself, but the best torrent search engine I've ever used. Searches everything you listed off.
    • Isohunt, Demonoid, The Pirate Bay, Mininova, (reincarnated) Suprnova. Shall I go on?

      Why not? Torrentreactor, btjunkie, fenopy, bushtorrents, meganova ...

      If you go to torrents.to, it will search various sites for you. Even if you just visit, you can read their list of sites that they search. So, if you only know of a few sites, and your sites get shut down, now you'll know what other sites to go to.

      This is, of course, for the express purpose of identifying torrents that are legal/ethical to download.

  • Blame CANADA! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Mr.Fork (633378) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `ydder.j.drawde'> on Monday August 27, 2007 @02:00PM (#20374151) Journal
    Alright, but maybe not. I'm a Canuck and I enjoy the fact that my country has a different view on this issue. I don't understand why the MPAA spends so much money and efforts against downloaders where they loose a majority of their money due to pirate bootleg copies being sold inside the USA and around the world? I wonder if the MPAA polled movie goers and found out how many that do download movies still go to movies in the Theatre? Has it increased their interest since movies became easy to download? Do they watch more movies they normally would of skipped otherwise because they're watching so much more on the Internet via their computer?

    Also, isn't this kind of action biting the hand that feeds them? Didn't Napster actually increase sales because it stimulated interested in music? Could MPAA be suffering the same short-sighted vision because their top executives are disenfranchised from the general public?
    • by griffjon (14945)
      See, this is why Canada will always be second fiddle. I mean, here you go applying "logic" and "business sense" -- not to mention, strategy -- to matters OBVIOUSLY better dealt with using chutzpah, truthiness, gut feelings, and stubborn, malicious incompetence. For the Mafiaa, it's obviously not about the money, the customers, the artists, or even being "right," it's about winning the global war on commies. I mean drugs. Wait, terrorists. no, like terrorists, but less 'splodey and more cutlasses. Pirates
    • by Grishnakh (216268)
      I'm a Canuck and I enjoy the fact that my country has a different view on this issue.

      I'm glad for that too, even though I'm an American. But I'm curious: what do you think of the current plans by the Bush Administration and your own administration to join Canada, Mexico, and the USA into one big state with a single government? Pretty soon, unless things change drastically, your "country" won't be able to have a different view, because we'll all be in the same country, and you'll be stuck with the MPAA jus
  • Just use a web anonymizer for the search.
  • So why not use Torrentz.com? It searches all the big sites including Mininova and TPB.
  • As a Canadian working in the US I feel that my socialist, lax copyright rights are being violated by this blanket ban. This is a travesty, how will I download my shareware torrents now?
  • I stopped using torrentspy.com when they put up all those annoying ads on it. Their search has been pretty lame lately. Mininova, piratebay and a host of others offer a lot more. So good riddance, good bye Torrentspy.com. I hope you lose a lot of money from the lost ad revenue from US internet users.

    Buhh bye!
  • That's funny, I just deleted my torrentspy search box in Firefox yesterday because I got tired of waiting for them to reinstate comments. Torrent sites without comments are useless to me because there's so much shit floating around.

    I've been using Btjunkie.org [btjunkie.org] lately. They have comments and lots of files. Often I would find things there I couldn't find on Torrentspy anyway.
  • by mark-t (151149) <{markt} {at} {lynx.bc.ca}> on Monday August 27, 2007 @04:15PM (#20375683) Journal
    Virtually everything that is legally copyable for distribution and is available via bittorrent can be found without the need for a dedicated torrent search engine anyways because a link to a torrent is often available right on the creator's website. At least, that's my experience. I use bittorrent fairly regularly but I've never once needed to resort to using a torrent search engine to find what I wanted.
  • by DrBuzzo (913503) on Monday August 27, 2007 @04:56PM (#20376191) Homepage
    Well, you can already work around it pretty easily by just connecting to a proxy server somewhere to hide your IP. Of course, this would be a bit annoying if you find you have to switch it on for torrentspy and then switch it off when you want to surf in general (without the inherant lag).

    So how long will it be before someone creates a simple mirror site to let users do the searches and have the page bounce through an offshore server or proxy, thus making it quick and easy to do so? Hmmm... how many minutes has this been going on for? I had better check.

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