A German software developer is alleging that a company hired by rights holders to hunt down file sharers actually helped to seed the file he eventually got sued for, according to a report from heise.de.

Hannover-based software developer Daniel Finger got sued for downloading and distributing a pornographic video via Emule. However, Finger not only maintains that he got duped into downloading the movie through misleading file names, he also thinks he actually received the movie from the very people that later helped to bring charges against him - a practice that would be very close to entrapment, and in this case quite possibly illegal itself.

The crux of the case is that Finger used a modded no upload Emule client, meaning the client was only able to download dta, but not contribute anything to the network. That kind of behavior is frowned upon in P2P communities, but it's also been regarded to be an effective shield against potential lawsuits. Don't upload any data, and no one will know what kind of files you're downloading. No one except the people you're downloading from, that is.

Of course it's debatable whether rights holders can use their own works as baits to catch file sharers. Some might call this entrapment, while others would probably argue that rights holders can distribute their works however they chose to, and still insist on the exclusive right of distribution.

Finger's case however is a little bit different. Once rights holders had logged his IP number, they went to the police and accused him of distributing pornography - something that's illegal in Germany unless you provide very strong safeguards to make sure your porn isn't available to minors. Pornographic web sites for example have to establish their users identity by having them go down to the post office and show their ID.

Nothing like that is in place when you offer porn in P2P networks, which is why uploading porn could likely been seen as an illegal act. The producers of the movie allegedly downloaded by Finger then used the criminal case against him to get his name, which they used to sent him a letter, threatening a copyright infringement lawsuit unless he paid for an out-of-court settlement.

Rights holders have been doing this in thousands of cases, but this one could prove to be a tad more difficult. If the company hired to track the porn movie in question really seeded it on P2P networks, Finger argues, then it also violated Germany's anti-porn laws. Finger has already started to document the case by writing an excellent layman's guide to modded emule clients (German PDF), and he intends to ask authorities to start a criminal investigation against whom ever seeded the movie. The results of that investigation could really interesting.

Tags: , , , , , ,