MediaDefender Used MiiVi to Trap Downloaders

The company that was hired by the MPAA to rein in leaks and catch downloaders of copyrighted material on BitTorrent networks is apparently the victim of a leak itself, with thousands of its own internal e-mails leaked to BitTorrent last week.

MediaDefender was hired by the Motion Picture Association of America to assist in its anti-piracy efforts. As part of the deal, the e-mails reveal, the company set up its own BitTorrent site named MiiVi. While its downloads were real, a program said to "speed" that download process was actually a Trojan horse.

Once the software was on the user's computer, it scanned for copyrighted content and reported any findings back to MediaDefender. The company was caught in July, and the site was taken down not soon after.

According to the e-mails, the decision to take down MiiVi was triggered by a story on TorrentFreak, which exposed MediaDefender as the owner of the domain during a domain transfer.

An e-mail from developer Ben Grodsky links to the story, to which founder Randy Saff responds, "This is really ****ed. Let's pull MiiVi offline."

The 700 MB file now available on BitTorrent includes e-mails as far back as six months or more, and provides the reader with a look at the inner workings of the company. It also shows the rise and fall of MiiVi in detailed fashion.

The leak apparently occurred when MediaDefender employee Jay Mairs used his Gmail account to store forwarded e-mails from the company. Mairs' account was hacked, which allowed for the downloading of the e-mails.

It even showed that if the site would have never been discovered, the reach of MiiVi could have been great -- the company was planning to go as far as to allow users to place videos from the site on MySpace.

MediaDefender went to great lengths to hide its involvement, with founder Randy Saaf in one e-mail scolding an employee about having detailed any private, company-related information in his own correspondence. "Make sure MediaDefender can not be seen in any of the hidden email data crap that smart people can look in," he wrote.

The leaking of the e-mails may be a blessing in disguise for BitTorrent users, as well as a warning to thoroughly investigate any new sites before linking to them. Apparently, the site had plans to return, according to e-mails dated last July. "Viide" seems to be the agreed upon name, although with this leak it's almost certain that those plans have been scrapped.

"For a business model that gets its life-blood from piracy, in a twisted way this leak is likely to help generate even more business and develop the market," 'Enigmax' and 'Ernesto' wrote for TorrentFreak. "Funny old world."

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