“No logs” VPN provider TorGuard this month reached a legal settlement with more than two dozen movie studios suing the company for encouraging piracy and copyright infringement.
In the settlement, TorGuard has agreed to block BitTorrent traffic for its users.
TorGuard VPN to block torrents using firewall
Last year, more than two dozen movie studios sued TorGuard, alleging that the VPN provider kept no logs and encouraged online piracy through its marketing efforts.
The same set of plaintiffs had previously claimed $10 million in “damage” from another log-less VPN provider, LiquidVPN.
According to court documents obtained by BleepingComputer, both the movie studios and VPNetworks, LLC dba TorGuard have now agreed to settle a settlement whereby the VPN provider will block torrents on its network.
TorGuard will use “commercially reasonable efforts to block BitTorrent traffic on its servers in the United States using firewall technology,” the documents reveal:
TorGuard blames host for ignoring 100,000+ piracy alerts
TorGuard has been renting servers and IP addresses from hosting provider QuadraNet since June 2012, until late 2021 when VPN provider notified QuadraNet that it was terminating the service.
Some of these servers were used by TorGuard to provide SOCKS5 proxy services to its customers.
TorGuard’s Knowedgebase (KB) had detailed instructions on how to configure its proxy servers by customers to work with existing BitTorrent clients:
TorGuard SOCKS5 proxy servers can be used with BitTorrent clients
Note that unlike VPNs, traffic routed through SOCKS5 proxy servers is unencrypted by default, allowing intermediary hosting providers to gain visibility into network flows should they wish to do so.
Film studio records show that 97,640 copyright infringement notices were sent to QuadraNet, confirming cases of piracy on the SOCKS5 IPs assigned to TorGuard.
Another 47,219 reports confirmed piracy related to other TorGuard IP addresses, through November 2021.
Plaintiffs’ attorneys shared an Excel spreadsheet with TorGuard containing 250,000 “hit dates of confirmed infringement.” Of these records, approximately 40% of copyright infringement cases were associated with one SOCKS5 IP address provided to TorGuard.
“Because traffic on TorGuard’s SOCKS5 proxy servers is unencrypted,… QuadraNet could have used conventional network monitoring tools to capture data packets from the piracy and confirm the piracy in the notices that plaintiffs sent to QuadraNet,” the attorneys for the plaintiffs.
The studios further argue that network surveillance technologies such as deep packet inspection could have been used to respond to piracy reports and block infringing streams.
TorGuard blames the accident on its hosting provider, QuadraNet, for failing to forward copyright infringement notices to TorGuard’s registered DMCA agent in a timely manner.
“TorGuard values intellectual property rights of others, as stated in TorGuard’s publicly posted policies. Had QuadraNet sent these notices to our DMCA agent, TorGuard’s normal business practice would have been to take immediate steps to stop further piracy.”
When TorGuard notified QuadraNet that it was ending its relationship with the hosting provider, Quadranet “tried to convince TorGuard to continue with the service by offering different terms,” according to the court documents.
It is common practice in the hosting industry for a provider to “null-route” a subscriber’s IP address, effectively terminating a network connection, when it has received multiple copyright infringement notices associated with an IP. -address.
“Had QuadraNet routed one of TorGuard’s assigned IP addresses where Plaintiffs had sent notices or at least forwarded the notices to TorGuard’s DMCA agent, TorGuard would have taken immediate steps to stop further piracy, such as suspending of users and adopting a firewall to filter out BitTorrent traffic as it has now begun to do,” explains the VPN provider.
In September 2021, the same group of movie studios sued QuadraNet for non-null routing of infringing VPN IPs. Fortunately, however, the plaintiff’s previous complaint focused on VPN traffic (encrypted) and made no mention of SOCKS5 proxies.
As such, the court had to dismiss the lawsuit and side with QuadraNet, which claimed it had no insight into encrypted VPN traffic and was “never aware of the end users’ online activity” on its servers.
This post VPN provider bans BitTorrent after being sued by movie studios
was original published at “https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/news/security/vpn-provider-bans-bittorrent-after-getting-sued-by-film-studios/”