Elite torrent trackers are reportedly banning the use of Windows 10

There’s online piracy, and then there’s online piracy. Anyone can mosey over to The Pirate Bay and grab some torrents of popular digital content, but there’s no quality control mechanism and certainly no privacy. That’s a niche filled by a plethora of hardcore pirate communities built around private torrent trackers. All is not well in the land of private trackers, though. Several of these sites are reportedly banning the use of Windows 10 by members due to Microsoft’s new EULA.

Private torrent sites are no strangers to strict rules. Gaining access to one of these trackers can take weeks or months on a waiting list, and some of the more serious ones only allow new sign-ups with an invitation from current members. The quality of the content on these trackers is often higher, and enforcement of seeding ratios means swarms are less likely to die out before everyone has completed the download. Banning an operating system, though? That’s a new one.

The controversy stems (mainly) from a line in the Windows 10 EULA that reads as follows.

“We may automatically check your version of the software and download software updates or configuration changes, including those that prevent you from accessing the Services, playing counterfeit games, or using unauthorized hardware peripheral devices.”

It’s appropriately vague to be scary, and it’s not clear from the context what sort of games or hardware Microsoft is referring to. That hasn’t stopped several torrent groups from reacting strongly — you might say overreacting. Popular torrent group iTS claims that Microsoft is sending the contents of users’ hard drives to its servers, where it is shared with the anti-piracy group MarkMonitor. Attempting to load the site on Windows 10 results in a redirect to this EULA explainer video that allegedly details the dangers of using Windows 10. It all sounds like boilerplate EULA language to me, though. There’s no evidence Microsoft is scanning your files in search of popular scene releases.

Several other private trackers have followed iTS’ lead in banning the use of Windows 10 by their members out of fear that Microsoft is going to hunt down everyone’s pirated content. These blocks are, of course, simply relying on useragent reporting. That’s easy enough to spoof, so it won’t keep a determined pirate from running Windows 10 if they want.

For any of this to be a legitimate threat to piracy enthusiasts, we have to assume that Microsoft doesn’t care about retaining user trust. For a company that’s fending off rivals from all angles, tattling on people for torrenting things is a bad move. The consensus on Microsoft’s EULA language is that it’s intended to apply to Microsoft and Xbox content only. It doesn’t really have an interest in enforcing someone else’s intellectual property. It does take a healthy dose of paranoia to run a torrent tracker these days, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by the reaction.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: