The Digital Milennium Copyright Act is a law requiring hosts of unauthorized copyrighted content to remove it from their servers. This law was designed to thwart piracy websites and torrents.
The "DMCA takedown notice" is a letter or email request for the removal of copyrighted material. A copyright holder might find a website hosting their proprietary material, and send a DMCA takedown notice to the operator of that service. Under the DMCA, the service operator is compelled to remove the material.
BAIT TORRENTS: IP-ECHELON, VOBILE, AND THE DMCA SPAMMERS
The DMCA law created a whole new industry with a particularly sneaky way of catching would-be movie pirates. What they do is set up fake bait-torrents designed as traps. If you're searching the dark corners of the Internet for Game of Thrones episodes, there's a good chance you'll hit one of these bait torrents. When you do, the host of the torrent (actually a copyright enforcement company) will send out an automated DMCA takedown notice to the owner of your IP address, claiming that you are not only downloading, but in fact hosting the torrent. (More on the hosting part later.) Normally this notice would be going to your ISP, but if you're using a VPN server it goes to your VPN host or their upstream bandwidth provider.
The companies who send out the most DMCA takedown notices are IP-Echelon and Vobile. Based on the material referenced in their notices, their main clients seem to be Disney and HBO.
Because of the sheer volume of notices generated by these firms (in the tens or possibly hundreds of thousands of emails per day,) they're now regarded as borderline-spam by many hosting companies. This has the unfortunate effect of making the DMCA takedown notice a much less useful tool for the small-time copyright holder, since ISPs are inundated daily with DMCA spam from the likes of Vobile and IP-Echelon.
DMCA'S EFFECT ON VPN PROVIDERS
When bait-torrents catch a would-be Game of Thrones downloader who's using a VPN, they send a DMCA email to whoever owns the IP address of the VPN server. The problem is that the notice claims that the person is hosting the torrent (since torrent clients usually share files in both directions,) but when you're using a VPN the torrent is 1-directional so you're not hosting anything. The claim made by the DMCA notice is not accurate when directed at a VPN provider. But they still come in by the truckload.
Despite the inherent flaws with a DMCA notice sent to a VPN host, some hosting companies do take them seriously. Particularly in the UK, hosting companies tend to be very pedantic in their handling of DMCA notices. When NetShade's UK4 or UK5 server goes down, it's almost always because somebody tried to download a bait torrent. This is one reason we run multiple UK servers, but we certainly encourage all our users to play by the rules. On a VPN, the server's overall health and reputation is a product of all our users' activity.
SAMPLE DMCA NOTICE
This is an example of the automated DMCA notices we often receive when users access bait torrents.
From: Vobile Compliance <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Notice of Claimed Infringement from 188.8.131.52 at 2019-06-13T19:54:47Z - Ref. 2dfd9845fc1bca4d6d77 Date: June 13, 2019 at 1:05:43 PM PDT To: email@example.com Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE----- Hash: SHA1 Dear velia.net (USA), This message is sent on behalf of HOME BOX OFFICE, INC. ("HBO"). We have information leading us to believe that the IP address 184.108.40.206 was used to download or share Big Little Lies without authorization (additional details are listed below). HBO owns the copyright or exclusive rights to Big Little Lies, and the unauthorized download or distribution constitutes copyright infringement. Downloading unauthorized or unknown content is also a security risk for computers, devices, and networks. As the owner of the IP address, HBO requests that velia.net (USA) immediately contact the subscriber who was assigned the IP address at the date and time below with the details of this notice, and take the proper steps to prevent further downloading or sharing of unauthorized content and additional infringement notices. We also encourage you to inform the subscriber that HBO programming can easily be watched and streamed on many devices legally by adding HBO to the subscriber’s television package. We have a good faith belief that use of the copyrighted material detailed below is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law. The information in this notice is accurate and we state, under penalty of perjury, that we are authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed. This letter is not a complete statement of HBO's rights in connection with this matter, and nothing contained herein constitutes an express or implied wavier of any rights or remedies of HBO in connection with this matter, all of which are expressly reserved. We appreciate your assistance and thank you for your cooperation in this matter. Your prompt response is requested. Any further enquiries can be directed to email@example.com. Please include this message with your enquiry to ensure a quick response. Respectfully, Brad Bo On behalf of Home Box Office, Inc. 2880 Lakeside Drive, Suite 360 Santa Clara, CA 95054 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org - ------------- Infringement Details ---------------------------------- Title: Big Little Lies Timestamp: 2019-06-13T19:54:47Z IP Address: 220.127.116.11 Port: 40959 Type: BitTorrent Torrent Hash: f995b232affbf9b592daa46c1d5651e321d428cc Filename: Big.Little.Lies.S02E01.720p.WEB.H264-MEMENTO[rarbg] Filesize: 1744 MB - --------------------------------------------------------------------- <?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <Infringement xmlns="http://www.acns.net/ACNS" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.acns.net/ACNS http://www.acns.net/v1.2/ACNS2v1_2.xsd"> <Case> <ID>2dfd9845fc1bca4d6d77</ID> <Status>Open</Status> <Severity>Normal</Severity> </Case> <Complainant> <Entity>Home Box Office, Inc.</Entity> <Contact>Vobile - Compliance</Contact> <Address>2880 Lakeside Drive, Suite 360 Santa Clara, CA 95054</Address> <Phone>+1 (408) 492 1100</Phone> <Email>email@example.com</Email> </Complainant> <Service_Provider> <Entity>velia.net (USA)</Entity> <Email>firstname.lastname@example.org</Email> </Service_Provider> <Source> <TimeStamp>2019-06-13T19:54:47Z</TimeStamp> <IP_Address>18.104.22.168</IP_Address> <Port>40959</Port> <Type>BitTorrent</Type> <SubType BaseType="P2P" Protocol="BITTORRENT"/> <Number_Files>1</Number_Files> </Source> <Content> <Item> <TimeStamp>2019-06-13T19:54:47Z</TimeStamp> <Title>Big Little Lies</Title> <FileName>Big.Little.Lies.S02E01.720p.WEB.H264-MEMENTO[rarbg]</FileName> <FileSize>1829420990</FileSize> <Hash Type="SHA1">f995b232affbf9b592daa46c1d5651e321d428cc</Hash> </Item> </Content> </Infringement> -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE----- Version: GnuPG v1 iQEcBAEBAgAGBQJdAqokAAoJEN5LM3Etqs/W/7QIAKVevO8wb7JkeM47XURH/GHV jncnfwDif1VufkPQdPDy0wySAeVUMaSoPN7BaqlVwkqD62173HSweWAZLV10uS3a N2dLkTZKi2Daoa+CFH4wmlMKGh2vz3J58jCaR0xFF1qjCu5TSku+qOVe9tVU2K19 Beu9N6AKOB6nNDD3VzBa9t4JXKjgy4bT2KEh9suRIdWqZh1bqXGRPJxWswFS6lfG dZeCLMwui/T0GX7ypQT+wZtoUnRwdd38UA+yDMcJn5OI2ZgZ95MjaMZFrkYCl0tP RERm/L24R8MyOgZfMN/6RV1AFq+RF2x7j3l61Ywdh4fw7iRKkNxLwopBORXevlQ= =vYvu -----END PGP SIGNATURE-----