This is a thought I’ve heard very little about, but I have heard about it, and it makes me wonder – do the authorities plant torrents on sites and trace IPs? The FBI Cyber Investigations unit is responsible for investigating piracy and intellectual property theft, so if anyone was planting torrents it would be them. In 2004, 23 billion dollars was lost as a result of criminals swiping copyright-protected digital copies of music, movies, software and games, and distributing them through websites chat rooms, email, FTP and P2P networks. The FBI calls this “intellectual property theft”. Searching online I was unable to find any posts or anyone talking about actual planted “bait” torrents.

FBI: “P2P users could be asking for big trouble”

The FBI released a “Cyber Education Letter“, in this letter they warn users of P2P networks and express their interest in such networks. I think its safe to assume that with well over 23 billion dollars at stake this year, that the FBI has a vested interest in torrent distribution sites, and is likely putting some money into dealing with them. Does this mean that they are after the end user? I don’t know, it would of course surprise me since the costs, energy, and time to convict an end user are perhaps not the best use of resources. I suspect that those who are more responsible for direct distribution will be the ones targeted by the FBI.

Operation Web Snare:

The FBI openly discloses on their website an operation “Web Snare” in which Criminal schemes included in this initiative include: …Intellectual Property Rights(IPR)…”. I wonder what current operations the FBI has running to catch those who are distributing pirated software. Do you think the FBI is planting torrents and tracing IPs? It certainly wouldn’t surprise me. Perhaps you have more information or thoughts you could share? Comments are welcome.