VPN provider blocked BitTorrent after copyright holders complained about piracy

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The VPN provider TorGuard managed to settle a dispute with two dozen film studios that sued him last year for promoting piracy and copyright violations. As part of the agreement, TorGuard must now block BitTorrent traffic to its users.

According to court documents, TorGuard intends to “use commercially reasonable ways to block BitTorrent traffic on its servers in the United States using firewall technologies.”

In October 2021, a similar agreement was signed between the same plaintiffs and the company VPN.ht, also agreed to block torrents to its users. Film studios have also sued a number of other VPN companies, including Surfshark, VPN Unlimited, Zenmate, PIA and ExpressVPN.

From June until the end of 2021, TorGuard leased servers and IP addresses from the QuadraNet hosting provider. Some of these servers were used to provide SOCKS5 proxies to users. The company also provided detailed instructions on how to configure them to work with existing BitTorrent clients.

Unlike VPN, traffic routed through SOCKS5 proxy servers is not encrypted by default, so that intermediate hosting providers can see it if desired.

As the records of the film studios show, they sent 97,640 complaints to QuadraNet about copyright infringement related to the SOCKS5 IP addresses assigned by TorGuard.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers provided an Excel spreadsheet showing 250,000 “dates of confirmed violations.” Of these records, about 40% of copyright infringement cases were related to only one SOCKS5 IP address provided by TorGuard.

In turn, the company TorGuard accused QuadraNet of late forwarding to it complaints of copyright violations.

“TorGuard values the intellectual property rights of others, as stated in the publicly available policies of TorGuard. If QuadraNet had sent these notices to our DMCA agent, it would have been normal business practice for TorGuard to take immediate action to stop further piracy,” the company said.

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