MediaDefender DoS attack on Revision3: Stop screwing with new media

Revision3 logoEarlier today, I saw Jim Louderback, CEO at Revision3, tweeting that there had been an outage at Rev3 this weekend and he could now shed light on the issue. Honestly, I hadn’t noticed the downtime. I’ve got Diggnation, The Totally Rad Show and Web Drifter being drip-fed into my iPhone (via iTunes sync) and watch the shows when I’m on the train/tube looking for something to do. I’ve also got a total school-girl crush on Alex Albrecht, which makes the show all too easy to watch, but I digress…

I expected the downtime to be Twitteresque in its incapacity to deal with our adulation and traffic. However, Jim’s story shows the issue they faced this weekend was a whole more serious.

In a nutshell, Revision3 exploits the fantastic peer-to-peer system that is BitTorrent to distribute its shows. Rev3 hosts the tracker, but doesn’t have to take the weight of every single download. It makes technical sense – the Rev3 crowd are technologically up to date and love BitTorrent. It makes business sense – Jim doesn’t have to put quite so much of his revenue towards more servers just to cope with the peaks of traffic, he can count on the distributed network. And it fits right in with the attitude of the Rev3 shows, irreverently addicted and up to date to the latest technology.

Jim writes… “But someone, or some company, apparently took offense to Revision3 using Bittorrent to distribute its own slate of shows. Who could that be?

Along with where it’s bound, every internet packet has a return address. Often, particularly in cases like this, it’s forged – or spoofed. But interestingly enough, whoever was sending these SYN packets wasn’t shy. Far from it: it’s as if they wanted us to know who they were.

A bit of address translation, and we’d discovered our nemesis. But instead of some shadowy underground criminal syndicate, the packets were coming from right in our home state of California. In fact, we traced the vast majority of those packets to a public company called Artistdirect (ARTD.OB). Once we were able to get their internet provider on the line, they verified that yes, indeed, that internet address belonged to a subsidiary of Artist Direct, called MediaDefender.”

MediaDefender was the one hitting Revision3 servers with a Denial of Service attack. (Read Jim’s post for details on who MediaDefender is and what denial of service attacks are. I’ll skim over that bit.)

According to my eye witnesses, MediaDefender received a less-than-warm reception at South by SouthWest when Randy Saaf, CEO at MD, took part in a panel on “How Piracy Will Safe the Music Industry”, where the legitimacy of such a service was questioned by the audience and fellow panelists.

Revision3 is out there, showing off BitTorrent in a good light, using it for legal and completely legitimate purposes, and in comes MediaDefender, like a bull in a china shop, crushing their servers. It’s naive on Revision3’s part to fail to keep a closer eye on their trackers and letting MediaDefender inject their torrents unauthorised for such a long time, but it doesn’t justify MD’s backhanded and disgusting behaviour.

Jim chose his words carefully and expressed the issue very clearly – For this, I’m very grateful, as it exposes MD as a total fraud blindly attacking legal and illegal services.

It’s hard enough being at the cutting edge of any technology without needing twisted organisations like the RIAA, MPAA and Sony hiring online hitmen to destroy perfectly legitimate of technology! I’m not personally a very active BitTorrent user these days, but I’m livid about this.

I hope that Jim, the Revision3 crew and all other technophiles making legitimate use of geekery like BitTorrent see this as a rallying call and an opportunity to educate people. There’s too much good technology out there to let old technophobes in their ivory towers dictate where we can go with it.

3 responses to “MediaDefender DoS attack on Revision3: Stop screwing with new media

  1. That article by Jim Louderback was incredile, I never knew he could write like that.

  2. It’s pretty amazing what big faceless companies think they can get away with, yes it’s you I’m talking about you MediaDefender. Unlike an individual they will never face the music for their crime, it’s left to Revision3 to sue them. Even though what they have done is a criminal activity, dare I say Terrorist attack, they wont be prosecuted criminally.

  3. meow

    “How Piracy Will Safe the Music Industry”

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I'm Véro - a crafty, knitty, spinny gal who enjoys making (and drinking) a cocktail or three. If you've stumbled here, you might enjoy browsing some of my older posts with the tags over to the right or finding out more about me.

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