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RIAA Orders WhoisGuard to Identify Torrent Site Owner


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The RIAA is continuing to put pressure on torrent sites. This week the music group went after the torrent indexer TorrentHound. The RIAA obtained a subpoena at the U.S. District Court of Columbia and has asked the whois privacy service WhoisGuard to hand over the IP-address, email and all other identifying information related to the account holder.

While the RIAA has a track record of going after individual file-sharers and services such as LimeWire, the music industry has never targeted any file-sharing sites.

Despite this lack of action, the RIAA sees BitTorrent sites as the main source of music piracy. In their most recent submission to the US Trade Representative (USTR) last November, they claimed BitTorrent “is responsible for approximately 50% of the industry’s global P2P piracy problem.”

One of the sites reported to the USTR is TorrentHound, and this week the RIAA put the wheels in motion to find out who is operating the torrent site. The music group obtained a subpoena from the U.S. District Court of Columbia and has ordered Namecheap’s WhoisGuard service to hand over all identifying information they have on the owner of the domain.

“We believe your service is hosting the above-referenced domain name on its network. This website associated with this domain name offers direct links to files containing sound recordings for other users to download by such artists as Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Coldplay, Madonna and Kanye West,” the RIAA writes in a letter to Whoisguard.com.

“As stated in the attached subpoena, you are required to disclose to the RIAA information sufficient to identify the infringer. This would include the individual’s IP-address and e-mail address,” the RIAA adds.

Interestingly, the identification request is not for the actual torrent site TorrentHound.com, which is registered through Katz, but for TorrentHound.net. The latter domain redirected to the .com site in the past, but it currently points to an entirely different site.

Despite the non-infringing nature of TorrentHound.net, WhoisGuard is expected to hand over the domain owner’s details.

In their Service Agreement they specifically mention that all personal information will be revealed when it’s “necessary to comply with any applicable laws, government rules or requirements, subpoenas, court orders or requests of law enforcement.”

The question remains, however, what the RIAA is planning to do with the information. Are they preparing to strike on torrent sites in the US? Last summer the music group also requested the personal information of the domain owners of three other torrent sites – LimeTorrents, BitSnoop and Monova – but thus far no notable action has been taken against the owners.

TorrentFreak contacted the RIAA for a comment, but we have yet to receive a response.

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