Online video studio Revision3 suffered web site outages over the long weekend and extending to Tuesday that it is now blaming on the anti-piracy outfit MediaDefender. Rev3 CEO Jim Louderback posted a long and well-written account of the events on the company blog this morning. Rev3 operates a BitTorrent tracking server to distribute high-quality downloads of its shows. MediaDefender, which distributes spoof files and also promotional content as part of its anti-piracy business, apparently exploited the configuration of that server to supply its own files.
After tracking the attack to MediaDefender, Louderback said he got ahold of the company’s executives, who admitted their involvement. It doesn’t seem that MediaDefender was trying to take Revision3 down, but rather had noticed the vulnerable configuration of the BitTorrent server and were plugging it in the name of anti-piracy (though Rev3’s uses were distinctly non-piratic). When Revision3 noticed someone using the server, they tried to block access, prompting MediaDefender’s apparent response (though they didn’t admit to this) of hitting Rev3’s server with upwards of 8,000 packets a second. That was enough to take down the company’s entire Internet infrastructure, including its corporate email server.
Not everything having to do with BitTorrent is illegal — using it to save on bandwidth costs to distribute your own shows certainly isn’t — but it’s a gray enough area that companies like MediaDefender are able to play a guilty-till-proven-innocent game. Rev3 says it has brought in the FBI to investigate. Louderback didn’t say for sure whether or not he would be taking legal action, but starts to lay out his case in the post, noting that Rev3 “suffered measurable harm” through the lost business and lost holiday weekends of his staff, and adding that denial-of-service attacks are illegal in the U.S.
Disclosure: Revision3 produces The GigaOM Show (which is currently on hiatus).