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Hack Claims to Make BitTorrent Downloads Untraceable

Gordon Kelly


Hack Claims to Make BitTorrent Downloads Untraceable

While it is virtually impossible to find universal agreement for any technology topic, the 60+ damning comments on our story about the passing of the Digital Economy Bill (which followed the Digital Britain Report and crucially, amendment) suggest there are some. And here is a fundamental example of why we're all right and the MPs who passed it are so hopelessly wrong...

It's called (and you'll have to fill in the blanks for yourselves) 'SeedF**cker'. It's just 86 lines of C# code and it has been developed to make downloads using peer-to-peer software completely untraceable. The Register reports it works by not only faking the IP address of a server from where a file is downloaded (protecting the source), but also by flooding a torrent with dozens of fake peers (protecting the user). In short: such masking would lead the traffic monitoring attempts of the RIAA, MPA and MPAA on a wild and unending goose chase.

Interestingly SeedF**cker comes from an exploit discovered in BitTorent code last year, but could help safeguard its future and with a bit of tinkering it could be integrated into every mainstream P2P client.

All of which is just the latest example of how the Web evolves faster than the authorities and laws which aim to catch it out. Coders behind SeedF**cker admit it was produced because of the Digital Economy Bill and it could serve to make illegal downloading safer and more prevalent than it has ever been before. Of course all involved in the #debill (as it is referred to on Twitter) should have known this and now their draconian steps could lead to even more lost revenues as sympathy for the copyright holders' cause evaporates and P2P masking technology comes to the forefront.

So let's reiterate the sane approach: distribution models need to evolve. Their smaller file size meant music was first targeted by downloaders and over the last 10 years these models have greatly improved through the likes of online stores such as iTunes and streaming services such as Spotify, Napster (ironically once an illegal download tool itself) and Last.fm. There isn't really a justification for users to steal music anymore, though improvements can still be made.

Where it does need to change drastically is video - a sector only relatively recently exploited thanks to ever faster broadband connections. Here the backward thinking of regionalised discs, snail speed roll out of content from country to country and rip-off pricing for HD material means for many illegally downloading their favourite shows or films is the only way to get them without incurring months - and sometimes years - of wait. Multi-format global day one availability (cinema, Blu-ray, DVD, download and streaming) is the only way forward, you know it and I know it.

Until then putting short term profits and lawsuits first simply won't work for either the government or the copyright holders they so desperately try to protect. The ingenuity that runs through the core of the Internet will always be more nimble than those who seek to control it for their own gain. Furthermore, with an election coming, there has never been a better time to make your voice heard...


via The Register

theyworkforthebpi.com (site detailing how every MP voted on the DEB)

theyworkforyou.com (site keeping tabs on individual MPs, UK parliaments and assemblies)

Story thumbnail again courtesy of zeta.net


April 15, 2010, 7:51 pm

Not going to work I'm afraid:


In the old days, they would just take IPs from the swarm and pursue, but now they connect and look for proof that the client is uploading. This won't change anything.

DEB will just make more people switch to newsgroups, VPNs and IP blocking software...


April 15, 2010, 8:00 pm

From what I have read SeedF**ker does not make you anonymous at all. All it does is add in a load of fake peers, but it does not hide the IP Address of the individual. It might make life a bit more difficult for the Anti-Piracy mobs that monitor BitTorrent traffic, but most already check if traffic is actually being downloaded from these fake IP's, so it has little practical use.

However, it is absolutely true that the people that develop the likes of BitTorrent will always be more nimble than the authorities and will simple develop something else, if and when one solution is no longer safe.

Totally agree with all the comments about the flaws in the Digital Economy Bill. The best it can hope for is to scare people into stopping piracy. As you say Gordon, the industries have to wake up and provide the services that people want!


April 15, 2010, 8:15 pm

Whether it works or not isnt the issue. Someone will find a way to make the DEB an even bigger waste of time and money in the end.

The key point is indeed how media is delivered and the need for drastic change and improvements to legal streaming/downloading services like what has been seen in the music industry (which still needs improvements). I'll admit to having been a heavy illegal music downloader in the past (despite also being a very big purchaser of physical albums) but as improvements were made in Napster and Spotify I now no longer have a need to download music illegaly unless for the very very rare occassion that I cannot find a single track on either Napster or Spotify - both of which I pay for.

I will also admit to being a little naughty and having downloaded TV content/Games (though not movies as I prefer to watch them in as good a quality as pos which more often than not means buying/renting a disc). Saving money isnt the sole reason for downloading torrents, its quite often convenience. There have been times when I have simply thought "I quite fancy seeing that" and within minutes Im watching whatever it is. Im not proud or boastful about what I download just being honest and showing that a Spotify type mentality to music is equally applicable to other media formats.

I have signed up to LoveFilm which has a handy "watch now" function with a host of free movies which is great (despite the poorish quality when played through the 40" TV) but until someone gets their act together and can dream up and create, say, Spotify for movies for example, there will be a gigantic gap in the market. I also have high hopes for that game streaming service that the yanks will be seeing shortly. I would suspect that the next generation of consoles may make significant inroads into genuine streaming and monthly packages too.


April 15, 2010, 8:32 pm

A story about some of the charming people who will be raking in the money in the brave new future ushered in by the DEB:


If you are not completely apatathetic, please write to your MP.


April 15, 2010, 8:57 pm

You can't really hide your IP address because you directly connect, to another computer. Or can you?

But saying that how do you prove I didn&#8217t download an nfo and seed that for 18 days? How do you prove the data you downloaded came from me as the nfo is not copyrighted (sometimes I download an nfo for various reasons &#8211 admittedly not all that often but still). Does owning a crack and not a game count as copyright infringement? It would surely have to be proved that the crack was to be used for copyright infringement and not to reverse engineer to see how it works, if you were into that. While that may not be often it&#8217s a possibility, especially if the person happened to be in a field where that kind of curiosity would be expected.

Also I don't think digital distribution will ever replace the hard copy. For one, infinite storage does not exist. At some point in time the company you bought your game from will say you no longer need access to this. Now, if DRM stops you from burning to a disc without cracking it someway do you really own it? If in 10 years you want to break open SW:KOTOR to relive some memories can you? I&#8217ve still got my NES and will buy another DC as soon as I can find one because both of mine broke, so I am one of those who does return to old games.

As for not being able to download quality videos of films that not true, you can get blu-ray quality versions of most films and they range from almost, to damn near perfect (2GB up to 40GB if you are so inclined biggest I would consider is about 20GB) and again as its digital if my computer dies, should I still be able to download a copy? I would say yes if I can't burn myself a copy.

Spotify you pay £10 a month to have access to a rental buffet, at some point you are going to have spent more money on rentals than music you would actually keep. How much can you do with iTunes music if you want to put it on a CD, your mp3 and keep a copy on your computer? I don't know tbh but I would like to.

For me digital makes no sense if its more restrictive and costs more, yes there&#8217s bandwidth but surely thats not more than, shipping, packaging, warehouse costs, returns etc etc etc

p2p is the way forward for the huge bandwidth needed but it needs to be at a price that makes sense which will never happen because the studio's / label's want to make as much from digi-sales as brick and mortar. Look at the recent ebooks argument.

Andrew Marshall

April 15, 2010, 9:55 pm

Well, there never was a "justification" for stealing music. People did it because it was easy and there was a slim to zero chance of being caught. Now using spotify et al is far easier, but that doesn't mean that illegal downloading was ever justified.


April 15, 2010, 10:08 pm

Glad to see there won't be an end to p2p anytime soon. I agree that now services like spotify exist there really isn't a need to pirate music. In saying that I do buy alot less music than I did 18 months ago. That could be down to there not being much out there that interests me but im sure spotify has its roll in it. I am a subscriber as I use it on my phone.

Im going to Download festival this year and the spotify has helped me so much in checking out the bands I don't know to see if they are worth seeing. Obviously I was never going to rush out and buy 50 albums "Just to see" so I suspect I would have be pirating heavily.

I agree that TV really needs to catch up. Without P2p I just wouldn't watch 24, lost, fan subed content etc due to my working hours or lack of availability in this country and its annoying I am doing something illegal.

Finally as previously noted some people help preserve content from the past. I'm talking games here. My collection would probably land me in a heap of shit but everything pre DC is in the safe hands of the internet and those that wish to keep such things alive for a very long time. Im sure in 10 years time you can add ps3 and 360 games to that list as well although I doubt we will ever see a decent ps3 emulator.


April 15, 2010, 11:50 pm

The following links may be inform on this issue:

1. The revenue generation through litigation argument; it's at 4 minutes 27 sec:


2. A US government accountability office report which indicates that industry estimates of the financial damage caused by piracy are significantly flawed, and that piracy can have some positive economic effects @ http://www.gao.gov/new.item...


April 16, 2010, 12:08 am

@kdot: Some very valid points.

What I would say is that Spotify costs £120 a year. I can safely say that for the past 10 years or so now I have spent at the very least 10 times that on physical cds. I prefer buying albums over singles - personal preference - and I avoid purchasing individual mp3s from iTunes and the likes. No real reason why, I just do! So, I genuinely feel I could pay for Spotify for a lifetime and take the view that it would have saved me money from pointless album purchases for those tracks or two by crap bands (Kaiser Chiefs for example) that Id have to do to get the tracks I like. Recently, I went on an album purchase binge and had a shortlist of about 20 albums.

Im sure Im not alone in being prepared to pay £x a month for a "rental" streaming service that gave good quality movies/tv, high bitrate music and the latest games. In fact, Id happily pay quite a bit for something like that - especially if there were Spotify type apps allowing for a film to be taken on the move.

Bandwidth may be an issue but to me putting in time and effort into developing and marketing a service like this would be very proactive. Reactive measures like the DEB always seem dated and half arsed.


April 16, 2010, 12:10 am

Yes, one day global release would be great, but it's only possible for the biggest studio releases which can secure a global deal (pre-sales) with distributors around the world, so basically only huge franchises with big, big stars.

The reason why this is not possible for other films given the way movies are financed is because local distributors recoup their investment in the financing of the movie primarily from their own territories. Hollywood films are first released theatrically in the US, and then in the rest of the world. This is why there are zones. You have to try to make sure the movie which is released in DVD or Bluray in the states cannot be played (easily) in territories where it has not yet been released theatrically, as it would kill the revenues of the theatrical distibutor (who has often invested in the film and can only recoup the investment from the theatrical release in their own territory).

So yes, movies need to be financed differently and to leave behing the financing model by territory, but it won't happen overnight for financial (not necessarily greedy) reasons. The problem with internet (for right owners) is that is knows no borders because it's not physically tied to an object or a place. So unless the financing becomes global, it will always be a problem.

The music industry doesn't have such a problem because it costs much, much less to produce an album, and it's usually financed by one company (independant or studio) in one country, which can then sell the rights. Territories are much less important than in movie financing.

Hope it helps to understand that the problem is more complex than pure greed by evil corporations.

By the way, I have a multizone DVD/BD player of course:).


April 16, 2010, 12:39 am

Many people don't want to the clutter of physical media in their life anymore. Why don't the film studios jump onto torrents? isn't there a way consumers can purchase movies at a reasonable price, then download the film through a combination of torrents, backed up by a dedicated server when there are few seeds online. This would same studios a lot of money in bandwidth costs, and there is surely some way to encrypt the torrent so only people with a certain password can download the movie. Of course there is the risk of people pirating said movie, but I've helped the studios this far, let them think of a novel way to protect their content after i've sorted out their distribution :)


April 16, 2010, 1:07 am

Those sending out these letter could be challenged/tested by the recipients joining up: say 10,000 individuals put up £100 each makes £1million legal fighting fund! If successful the other side pays plus any compensation. Of course, if 100,000 individuals got together......!!! After all what effort have the claimants made to stop the source or obtain the damages from that source?

You may find as the Middlesborough's 'Pirate' ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/... ) found the British Courts may take a different view to that the Swedish Courts did in the case of the Piratebay case.

As did Australian courts: &#8220ISP cleared of copyright infringement&#8221


Or you could try this: http://bpiboycott.wordpress...


April 16, 2010, 1:40 am

Absolutely agree with you on there being a new model put in place for distributing video media. God forbid if one should hear about a fantastic show abroad but being unable to watch it for a good couple of months to a year or so, just because no terrestrial broadcaster can pick up the rights to show it here. The alternative being subscription TV. Imagine having to buy a whole selection of rock music just so that you could listen to an album by only one particular band you like. It would be preposterous for people to accept such a process but that's the kind of choice we are faced with currently. People should have the right to pay and watch any particular TV show when and where they want (obviously only when the season is running).

On another note the movie industry already rip-off their customers with "next generation" HD media. I know 'cos I'm the poor sap who loves buying their blu-ray movies. So next generation it is, it's a lottery whether the movie you buy has the simple function to resume play once you happen to stop the movie mid-way through. I mean, how could it have lost a function that was available in older media (dvd, video cassette). What's that all about?


April 16, 2010, 3:32 pm

@Jones: Just to be clear I love Spotify, I think its the best thing this year. But its a rental service and at the end of it all if I wanted to stop using it I would still want access to my music. Ideally within the Spotify framework you could keep x amount of tracks a month. Dont see it anytime soon, but when that comes I think it is something I would pay for to be legit and to actually help the artists I enjoy listening to.

@RazorA: Didnt know that about Blu-Ray's seems its a case of one step forward and two steps back with new tech these days.

@Enigma: Oinks owner was never tried for copyright enfringemnt he was tried for fraud because they attempted to prove (inaccurately) it was a pay site, he asked for donations and gave nothing in return besides a warm feeling that you helped the site stay alive. Obviously they did not have a strong case against him even though they knew he was the owner.

@darkspark88: I would bet that the majority of people still want a physical product when they hand money over, gives you security and the feeling of ownership.

They could do it easily, key the file like a private torrent site, and make they key timeout after x amount of time, wih concurrent connections reseting the key and forcing the user to redownload the torrent file. Still, dont see it happening, would take a very forward thinking company to do that, especially to embrace the evil that is torrents.


April 16, 2010, 4:43 pm

@kdot: Not used it myself, but sky songs has 4.99 a month sub for unlimited streaming and you get to download 5 songs a month too. Probably not as good as Spotify, but possibly a start.


April 16, 2010, 4:57 pm

Regarding Soptify type services - I guess it comes down to how much you listen to music. Someone who listens to music as much as I do will happily pay £120 a year for the sort of access Spotify gives you whether it is "rental" or not. If you only listen to a couple dozen bands/albums then I can agree it has far less value.

I think it depends on your Bluray player to be honest - some will have the internal memory required to pick up from where it was stopped. Im positive my PS3 does it.


April 16, 2010, 6:10 pm

Music Is Everybody's Possession. It's Only Publishers Who Think That People Own It!

John Lennon


April 16, 2010, 9:08 pm

Manni: You're right, it is more complex... however broadband internet was not invented yesterday. We are not asking the industry to completely change itself overnight. They have had plenty of time to modernise; it looks they stubbornly chose not to, hoping that the rest of the world would continue doing things their way. We didn't, so they throw their toys out of the basket and decided to use their power to threaten individuals - I believe this fits most people's definition of "evil corporations".

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