After a brief lull, the dreaded registered mails were back in full force in July, diminishing to nothing towards the middle and end of July then returning like the Plague in the early part of August. And people have still been receiving the letter up till this very day. All the speculation, angst and impotent rage by the anime community, most notably on certain forums like Hardwarezone, with regards to issues like How Odex received the IP addresses from Singnet, Which company Odex hired to track the illegal downloaders, etc; did not go unnoticed.
Theories abounded as to whether Odex's actions were ethical and why it appeared that only Singnet subscribers have been receiving the Letter when there are a considerable number of Downloaders on Starhub and to a much smaller extent, Pacnet. Today's report in The New Paper (08 August 2007, Page 2-3 )about the Crackdown by Odex and the official version of the entire process by the Odex people did shed some light on certain murky issues. The situation however does not look promising for the illegal anime downloaders.
Here's some of the important points to be summarised:
- Singnet did not release its Subscriber's information voluntarily to Odex. Odex's solicitors, Rajah & Tann, applied for a court order to make Singnet release the information. As per Singnet's spokesman: "...In this particular case, Odex had obtained a court order that required us to release the information to them..." This court order has been confirmed by a couple of Odex-ed individuals who were shown a copy of the court order.
- Singnet subscribers who illegally downloaded anime on BT are not and will not be the only ones to be Odex-ed. As many members of the community have long suspected, Odex is processing and sending out the letters to the illegal downloaders- one ISP at a time. As Mr Go himself said, "We just haven't finished matching the data from the other ISPs yet. We are not targeting any ISP in particular." So yes, Starhub downloaders won't be exempt for long.
- Apparently, Odex is contemplating taking legal action if the situation does not improve. Though eliminating illegal downloads is not quite the same as boosting sales of Odex's products but that is another story. And taking legal action would mean "...getting to the point where we will have to raid the homes of those who download illegally..." Which is not funny. At all.
- This point's not in the TNP report but it's been something that's been observed by the netizens on the forums. The number of episodes for which downloaders have been caught for is shrinking significantly. From the three page appendix of downloaded files back in June, the unlucky recepient of the most recent letter had only downloaded FOUR episodes of Code Geass. How this number constitutes significant as per the Copyright Act is beyond me. Relevant portion of letter attached below.
- It has been suggested and appears to be widely agreed upon that the American company tracking the IP addresses of the BT downloaders is BayTSP.
- The illegal downloaders who were Odex-ed so far all appear to be those who have downloaded in batch, be it a batch file (example Episodes 1-4 in a single file) or multiple episodes in one day. The key words here are so far.
- Again all those who have been caught are Bit torrent users or those who downloaded the torrent files. Once again, this is as of now. No guarantees as to the future or form, though it does seem unlikely for now. The ISP issue is a now moot point cause as you heard from the Odex guys, they're processing one ISP at a time. Your ISP will not protect you.
All in all a very dismal situation for whoever downloaded anything (anime) via Bit Torrent or other torrent clients from February 2007 till now. It's that gloom and doom feeling, where the postman is the LAST person you want to see. And if you're still downloading via torrent up till today, good luck and I hope you have your $3,500 (at LEAST) ready.
Cause Odex is in town.