Hitman: Absolution, and The Boy Who Cried “Rape!”

Oh, boy. Here we go again. Another day, another moral guardian pops up to condemn a game. Except, here, we’re not even talking about an actual game – just a trailer for one. I heard about this through a Google News alert, which brought me to this article on Forbes.

The blogosphere has tried the Hitman: Absolution trailer and it has been found guilty. In it, a group of female assassin’s dressed as hyper-sexualized nuns are brutally murdered by the ultra-masculine 47. It’s juvenile, brutal, an affirmation of every problem that video games have with women and an affirmation of the worst aspects of our culture.

I’ve never played Hitman – I saw the movie, which largely sucked, and think I spent a post-Thanksgiving sloth watching our son try to get through a mission. I seem to recall falling asleep, though that may have been as much the turkey overdose  as the game.  But, ooh! “An affirmation of the worst aspects of our culture”! I wanna see! Oh, dammit: I’m on my lunch-break. Better wait till I get home.

But in the meantime, of what did “the blogosphere” find the trailer guilty? Let’s click on the link, shall we? Turns out “the blogosphere” is apparently a guy in Melbourne called Brendan Keogh. Not sure what his qualifications are. He’s “a Media and Communications PhD student”, which I personally read as “too lazy to get an actual job.” This conclusion is confirmed by the “Occupation” listed on his profile: “Writer. Gamer. Student. Barista.”  Maybe there wasn’t enough room for “Layabout.” Among his other blogs are Feathers, Cogs and Stars, where he “will be uploading original short stories and poetry roughly once a fortnight.” This lasted three entries before he gave up, though frankly, it’s no bad thing. If you can get through them, you’ve a better stomach for shitty writing than I.

I mention all this, so you know that blogosphere thing is clearly in great hands…

Keogh starts out a long explanation of how he wasn’t going to write about the trailer – is he paid for the word on his blog or something? -then, six paragraphs in, finally gets to the issue: “My problem with this trailer is precisely its sexuality, more specifically its conflation of sexuality with violence.” Okay, let’s talk about tha… Or not. For the writer then heads off into a long discussion of “rape culture” in the video game world, though the examples offered are mostly smack-talk from Gears of Warplayers, whose relevance to the specific case I thought he was discussing is dubious. Give teenage boys headsets and an Internet connection, and you’re somehow surprised they aren’t congratulating opponents on killing them?

I disagree with the whole “rape culture” thing. Those who accept it, see the world through rape-coloured glasses and the results of that vision are unsurprising: Keogh’s statement that, “Videogame culture reinforces rape culture when 99% of videogame protagonists are male.” That’s a statement so entirely filled with delicious wrong, I don’t even know where to start, not least that videogame protagonists are not real. They’re pixels on a screen, and ascribing gender to them in a meaningful way says more about Keogh’s confused view of reality than anything. That aside, 100% of, oh, NFL players are male too. Is that reinforcing rape culture too? Like I said: start seeing the world through rape-colored glasses, and suddenly, everything potentially becomes the “conflation of sexuality with violence” which he abhors.

Now, don’t forget, I still hadn’t actually seen the trailer. But by the time I’d finished Keogh’s piece, I was very keen to see this “rolling in the digital filth”, which left him “embarrassed and ashamed and disgusted to have any part in a videogame culture that produces work like this.” Man, it’s gotta be totally out there, filled with more sexual battery than an Abel Ferrara retrospective. So here you go.

YouTube video

Well. That was underwhelming, wasn’t it?  It reached the end, I looked outside and, yep, civilization appears to be going on about its business. Dodged a (slo-mo) bullet there. Of course, unlike Keogh, I didn’t take the trailer seriously. To me, it was pretty clear that doing so would be a dumb mistake, right from the moment the killer nuns discarded their habits. This is not something that happens in real life, and from that point on, the clip ceased to have the slightest relevance at all to the universe in which I live. Maybe Melbourne is different in this regard, with packs of twisted sisters roaming the streets, launching RPG’s at random motels?

Could be, because this was the impact on Keogh: “It really upset me. Not just infuriated me, but upset me. I lost sleep over this last night.” Really? REALLY? REALLY? If that is truly the case – and it feels more like carefully manufactured outrage than a genuine reaction –  then someone needs to beg, borrow or steal a huge fucking dose of perspective. I saw a hardcore battle in which one bad-ass assassin took on an entire platoon of bad-ass enemies, who were clearly not popping round for a discussion, and prevailed over them. Once battle commenced, that was what mattered. And in support of this, it has been estimated the trailer contains, “Fewer than four seconds with the vaguest of hints of sexualization.” Oh, and I should point out, absolutely no rape whatsoever.

For those four seconds, I’ll defer to Penny Arcade in their assessment:

The cinematic ambitions of the Hitman games have always been prominently displayed on (or very near to) its sleeve; I watched the video to see what the deal was, and they’re playing around with their subtitle in a pulpy, grindhouse vein.  Robert Rodriguez through and through.  It’s fight choreography, and it may set an “erotic” stage but it quickly – and I mean quickly – gives way to a gruesome, life or death, septum obliterating struggle that might be hot for somebody but I suspect that’s a very specific demographic.  Only a necrophile could be titillated by something like this; by the end, it literally defies the viewer to maintain an erection.  As spank material, it leaves something to be desired; specifically, spank material.

That demolished, let’s go back and address Keogh’s earlier argument, that the trailer was… Sorry, what was his argument again? It was so long ago I’ve just about forgo… Ah, here we go: “”My problem with this trailer is precisely its sexuality, more specifically its conflation of sexuality with violence.” I’m not sure what he’s studying, but he appears to have majored in Missing The Point. Because that’s exactly where the “edge” here comes from: the uncomfortable feeling to be found in the juxtaposition of arguably the best and worst things about being human. It’s been that way for ever: I’m no gaming expert, but in cinematic terms, basically the entire girls with guns genre is based on skating the razor-edge of this tension.

The real crux here is not the simple equation suggested by Keogh of “sex + violence”. Even as a non-expert, I can list off any number of video games which have female characters, in costumes you wouldn’t wear to the supermarket, inflicting copious quantities of violence on (largely male) opponents. Next to no controversy have greeted these. The big difference here? The sexual, violent women here lose. It’s an interesting double-standard. Society nods its head at sexual, aggressive even aggressively sexual women…as long as they get what they want. But meet their fire with fire, as the Hitman literally does, and it’s unacceptable.

Is the trailer sexist? Quite probably. But it’s an advertisement for a series of games which, I’m pretty sure, are almost exclusively played by the male sex, from a male perspective, and can hardly be condemned for trying to appeal to the target audience. It’s not called Hitperson after all, and despite the trailer, is not likely to reach the nun demographic. There may be some hippy-dippy land where you can advertise a game about a serial killer character in a bland way, completely incapable of causing offensive in all possible interpretations, that will magically work. But in the real world, you have to grab the viewer’s attention, first and foremost, and on that scale, the trailer rates an absolute 10.

You may or may not buy the game. [By most accounts, it’s nothing like the trailer – which is a shame, I’d say] You may or may not like the trailer. You will remember it, and awareness of the product in question increases, the more the likes of Keogh whine about it. Mission accomplished, level completed. Brandon, you just got pwned like a n00b [as I believe the kids say], by the very people you’re complaining about

As usual, the moral guardians bleat about the wrong thing entirely. If there is a “problem” here – and I’m using quotes advisedly – it’s that the Hitman series encourages the player to identify with a mass murderer, and is far from alone in so doing. Never mind the “rape culture” bogeyman Keogh sees in video games, which requires the viewer to join the dots and make a picture of a penis, out of whatever might be on screen. If there’s an issue, it’s the “murder culture” far more all-pervasive in the genre (and in a pretty “ritualistic” or “fetishistic” way in this particular game) that should be of concern to those worried about such things. Which wouldn’t include me. But the implication of Keogh’s argument is that it would be ok to have the hero mow down dozens of women, as long as they were actual nuns, not sexy fake ones. Hmmm.

I did find interesting this statement, in the very article linked to by Keogh. “Rape culture is using the word “rape” to describe something that has been done to you other than a forced or coerced sex act.” Keogh uses the words “rape” or “raped” 46 times in his piece about an animated trailer for a video game. One which contains no actual sex acts of any kind done to anyone, let alone forced sex. Whoops.jpg. By this definition, the writer is actual part of the very “rape culture” problem he claims to be fighting.

One final irony: less than a week after his rant, Keogh wrote another piece, entitked Bite the bullet: videogames don’t make deadly shooters – however, in his universe, they apparently do make rapists. In that article he concludes, “Videogames are complicated things. No less than films. No less than novels. No less than any other form of media people engage with. It’s about time researchers acknowledged this instead of seeking easy, linear and lazy cause-and-effect models that insult the multitudes of people that play videogames.” Shame he was incapable of following his own advice on his own blog.

Kindle Surprise

The news the other day that Amazon now sells more e-books than physical one didn’t come as a surprise. I got a Kindle for my birthday, and it has quite rejuvenated my reading habits. I’d slowly fallen away from the written page since moving to Arizona, in part because I was no longer commuting on the train to work and around town on public transport. That was a perfect opportunity for a book, also helping to ensure you never committed the ultimate faux-pas of making eye contact with your fellow travellers. But in Phoenix, the car is king, and it seemed terribly rude to ignore Chris and bury my nose in a tome on our way somewhere.

Also, let’s face it, my tired old eyes aren’t what they used to be, especially given the time since my last eye exam (I’m not saying it was a while ago, but the eye-chart started sphinx, ankh, sphinx, pyramid). They can focus at computer screen and TV set distance – just don’t expect them to switch with any degree of rapidity faster than a mid-80’s camcorder (and about as much grinding and whirring). Indeed, they also function about as well as said camcorder in low light conditions – and by “low”, I mean anywhere not appropriately lit for brain-surgery. Standard book text in standard conditions where I want to read e.g. our bedroom, is legible, but only with enough squinting to take the fun out of it.

The Kindle, however, lets you adjust the print size to whatever you want. It’s also supremely easy to use. Two buttons: one to go forward, one to go back – they’re duplicated on each side so you can operate it with either hand, depending on circumstance. There’s a small QWERTY keyboard, that I hardly ever use, and some menu and setting buttons. Loading up content is a snap. Connect to your PC, it appears as an external drive, and you just drag and drop your e-books or other documents, and you’re good to go – it’ll sort through them and automatically list them by title, author, etc. Select a title and start reading; it even automatically keeps your place when you shut it off.  Marvellous.

Of course, you then have to find stuff to put on it: that Kindle User’s Guide isn’t exactly great literature [while the plot is quite interesting, the characterization leaves a lot to be desired…] There are two ways you can approach this. You can painstakingly assemble a collection of e-books, paying out for another copy of books you already own and effectively rebuilding your entire library from scratch. Or you can find a nice fat torrent collection of e-books in the appropriate format, and download it. I have surprisingly little guilt over saying I did the latter.

I certainly object to having to cough up multiple times for the same content, especially when, as with e-books, there is no discernible difference. It’s not as if you get a better experience, as with, say, VHS < LD < DVD < Blu-Ray.  Indeed, the Kindle is specifically designed to imitate the reading experience as closely as possible – sensible since, after all, it has been perfected over several millennia of the human experience. Buying a book, then being expected to pay for the e-version is like buying a CD, and then having to pay extra for the MP3 so you can listen to it on your iPod. I’d be more concerned about authors and publishers getting nothing if it weren’t for the existence of a) publicly-funded libraries, and b) second-hand book-stores. If I get a book from either of those, neither receive any additional recompense.

Taking the moral justifications as read (for the moment), I found and downloaded a nice torrent of e-books, in a format suitable for Kindling. It wasn’t that big, about 1.4 Gb, which is roughly the size of two standard movies. But it was only when I whacked it onto the Kindle, that I realized what a kick-ass device I had – and how far storage capacity of modern devices has out-paced the written word. My Kindle, previously a barren wasteland of emptiness, now contained 1,425 titles. Even excluding the Kindle User’s Guide, that meant that, if I read a book every week, this small device still contained enough to keep me going until approximately the end of the year 2039. When I’ll be 73. Odds are, given a more credible reading rate, I’ll die, with books on it left unread.

Of course, I can’t say that I intend to read every book on there. While the titles were skewed more than satisfactorily toward the genres I like, let’s be honest – The Color Purple is not exactly leaping to the top of the list. But this is one of the other aspects about such a bulk acquisition, and it’s a positive one for authors and publishers. The first two books I’ve read on it are both by writers I would almost certainly not have bothered with, under other circumstances. Admittedly, the two books in question have been a bit of a mixed-bag. A.J. Jacobs clunkily-named The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible is sporadically amusing, but comes over as mostly self-righteous preening. He comes to the conclusion that the only way to follow the Bible is to pick and choose which bits, since it’s so contradictory. Well, duh. I could have told him that, without needing to live for a year without mixing my fibres [Deuteronomy 22:11].

However, Joe Abercrombie’s The Heroes reminded me of why I love reading to begin with. It’s a lovingly-crafted story of a war in a fictional medieval-ish world, between the Union and the North; what makes it particularly interesting is it’s told from multiple viewpoints on both sides. You get to see things unfold as seen by a career fighter, who is fed up with the whole thing, and also the scheming wife of an officer on the opposite side, plotting advancement for her husband. It would make a great, epic movie with its gritty battle scenes that you can see unfolding in your head, particularly the one that starts off following one character, until he dies, then moves on to follow his killer, until he, too, pop his clogs, and so on.

It’s great stuff, which I’ve been reading everywhere from the bathroom to the projection booth at our film festival, and has certainly got me interested in reading more by Abercrombie. Enough to pay cash for his other books? Probably, actually. But even if there’s only a (say) 20% chance of such a purchase, that’s 20% higher than it would otherwise have been. But to finish by going back to the moral aspects, is this kindling – hohoho! – of my interest in an author, any different from borrowing the book [electronic or regular version] from a friend? I’m largely unconvinced that it isn’t exactly the same.

Thank you, Jessica Hahn

End of the month time, so I checked the stats for the site, see how many people have been stumbling across my deathless prose – or, more likely, doing a Google Images search for dubious pictures [Hey, hits are hits, right?] Normally, there’s about 200-300 per day, not really varying too much. But then I looked at the graph for February…

One of these things is not like the other…


That’s not a mistake. On February 21st, we got 254 visitors. On February 22nd, we had 20,276. That would be a 7,883% increase over the previous day. To put the total into some kind of context, we had just over 17,100 in the entire last quarter of 2010. Now, we suddenly had that many in a single day. WTF. No, seriously: WTF?

My first thought was that we’d been hacked, and that someone had injected some kind of mass phishing scam into our page content, harvesting credit-card details for the Eastern European mafia – and without even the courtesy of a percentage or two in kickback. However, nothing seemed to have changed on the site. It took a little bit of detective work, but I was finally able to track down the piece responsible for the massve spike in traffic. However, this simply raised as many questions as it answered: why was our Incredibly Bad Film Show review of Thunder and Mud suddenly a hot topic on the Internet?

The reason appears to be, because that piece was one of the top searches on Google at the time for Jessica Hahn. If you’ve forgotten who Hahn was, she was the model/actress/whatever who, in 1987, brought down televangelist Jim Bakker, then head of The PTL Club, by alleging that Bakker had drugged and raped her a few years previously, when she was working as a church secretary, and had been paid off by Bakker to keep quiet. Big thing at the time – Hahn parlayed the notoriety into a Playboy pictorial, an appearance on Married With Children and… Yep, as one of the hosts in the combo heavy-metal/mud wrestling extravaganza which was Thunder and Mud.

Fast-forward 13 years, and we post our review; fast-forward a further eight, and it suddenly becomes relevant, as Hahn turns up again on The View, a morning talk-show on ABC hosted by, among others, Barbara Walters. The two women spar, with Hahn pointing out her relationship with Bakker wasn’t an “affair”, and trying to contrast it with Walters’ relationship with married U.S. senator Edward Brooke. A fair point – not that Walters was having any of it, of course. Let’s go to the tape…

There you have it. Boom. 20,000 visitors to the site, triggered by that. It probably didn’t even count as 15 minutes of fame; probably nearer 2-3. But it’s a powerful example of how the Internet [or, at least, Google] never forgets; things can lie dormant in its tubes for years, before suddenly being relevant, albeit very briefly. Our article blazed a burning trail across the information superhighway, before fading back into the obscurity from whence it came, and our site goes back to serving a couple of hundred visitors per day. Kinda cool.

[And this article continues to be the gift that keeps on giving (page views, at least!). A slightly smaller spike – a mere 3,500 visitors in a day, about ten times normal traffic – showed up on October 22, 2012. Not quite sure of the reason for this one. If I’d to guess, it might be a result of the scandal surrounding the CIA chief, but that’s just a guess.]

Google (not necessarily-so) Instant Search

If you use Google – and, let’s face it, who doesn’t – you’ll have noticed the new Google Instant feature. Previously, nothing would happen as you typed in your search terms, until you hit ‘Enter’. Then, you got the results. Now, if you have the feature enabled [and, personally, I’ve turned it off], as soon as you start typing, the rest of the page fills up with search results. So, if you were typing in “Trash City” say, here are the top results you get:

  • T – Target.com
  • Tr – Travelocity.com
  • Tra – Travelocity.com
  • Tras – The “Trash” entry on Wikipedia
  • Trash – The “Trash” entry on Wikipedia
  • Trash C – TrashCanCentral.com
  • Trash Ci – Ah, there we are! [Well, our bead store, anyway.]

However, there are quite a number of topics on which Google Instant Search refuses to express an opinion…

As 2600.com put it, “Somewhere within Google there exists a master list of “bad words” and evil concepts that Google Instant is programmed to not act upon, lest someone see something offensive in the instant results.” Here’s an obvious example. Type in “dog” with a space after it, and you get many helpful suggestions on naming your dog. But do the same thing with “bitch”. You go through Bank of America, Bing, Bittorrent and Bitcomet – but as soon as you type that H, Google Instant does the cyber-equivalent of screaming and running away.

I can kinda see the point. You’re looking for information on sextuplets, and three letters into your search, you’re heading off in an entirely different direction. Except, that one doesn’t actually work. You have to go from Sears, into the Sex and the City homepage and the Wikipedia article on sexting, before mercifully, you hit the U and can enjoy pieces on multiple bir… What? Where have the search results gone? Yep. Google remains dumb for “sextu” and “sextup” before finally kicking back in at “sextupl.” I guess it’s then clear what you’re looking for – y’know, as opposed to all the other words beginning “sextup”.

The obvious response was made by Google, that it’s “to protect the children” – the longtime rallying cry of irrational censorship advocates everywhere. Certainly, I imagine that typing rude words into the search engine is part of growing up, in the same way that looking them up in the dictionary used to be. But, really, after you type in v-a-g-i, where exactly does Google imagine you are going? And, of course, the results Google deem too horrific to show you in real time, are available at any point with a click of the enter button.

Some of the results are amusing. “Latino” is ok; “Latina” is not. Neither is “lesbian,” but “homosexual” is fine. Apparently this is not because the words themselves are bad, but what previous Google users typically follow them up with, leads to results deemed inappropriate for display to maiden aunts. This makes sense, albeit in a “thoroughly pointless” kind of way. However, some of the other cases of censorship are just completely baffling. Type in “rul” and Google has nothing to offer as an instant search, and I can’t imagine anything offensive that could follow it. I guess the owners of Google must have had a horrific experience at the Irish pub in Tempe I know, Rula Bula.

There are a lot of political and religious implications, and it’s interesting where Google draws the line.  It has nothing to offer if you type in “Catholics are” – but type in “Protestants are,” and they have a lot to say. Indeed, all the topics offered as auto-completions could be seen as offensive: Protestants are wrong, going to hell, heretics and not Christians, according to Google’s helpful suggestions. If those are deemed to be okay, I’m not sure what the “Catholics are” completions could be. “Black power” is okay. “White power,” however, is not.

Sometimes, it flat out contradicts itself. Type in “how to kil”, and the search results are there, Google helpfully suggesting at the top, “Did you mean how to kill”. However, add another l, and the search results vanish, as soon as Google realizes that, yes, you did mean “how to kill”. Even more bizarrely, type a space – going on with your original query, about how to kill time – everything returns to normal, the search results beginning with hints on getting rid of scorpions. Ah, so it’s just generic killing Google objects to. As long as you’re specific about it, no problem. And from what, exactly, are Google trying to protect a child who is typing “how to kill” in?

It’s so lame that it probably doesn’t even qualify as censorship, since you are no more than a click away from seeing all the results Google won’t show you. It’s just the equivalent of a momentary stab of parental disapproval, to remind you that you probably shouldn’t be typing that into the search engine, before Google relents and shows you all that stuff you were looking for anyway. Perhaps the most amusing thing is that, somewhere in its labyrinthine lair, they have an employee tasked with ensuring the world is kept safe from accidentally typing in the Japanese word for “hermaphrodite”…

Here are ten of my favorite terms that are blacklisted by Google Instant Search, and return no results:

  • futanari – just so you don’t accidentally type in the Japanese word for hermaphrodite. Never say this wasn’t a learning experience. The English word for hermaphrodite? Perfectly acceptable by Instant Search.
  • Phillip K Dick stories – “dick” appears to be the problem here. See also – or rather, don’t – “Dick van Dyke” or “Dick Barton.” Dick Cheney is okay though.
  • Pamela Anderson – merely the most-downloaded celebrity on the Internet, but as far as Instant Search is concerned, she doesn’t exist.
  • Twinkie – Add Hostess Snack Cakes to the list of those who have offended the almighty Google. Yes, I know there is another meaning of the term, but is it actually more prevalent than the creme-filled confection?
  • hooker – escort is also blocked. Curiously, “prostitute” is just fine, as is the considerably-less PC “whore.”
  • women rapping – “men rapping” is fine. On the other hand…
  • men wrapping – “women wrapping” is fine. The only thing I can think of, is that Google is protecting the really. really bad child spellers of the world from themselves.
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit – speaking of music, one of the classic songs of the 90’s is blacklisted. Contrast Wikipedia, where “Smells” is enough to get the song to the top of the list. Mind you, Instant Search blacklists pretty much “teen” anything, though I’m surprised “spirit” is covered.
  • Octopussy – yeah, it wasn’t a very good James Bond film, but still…
  • Google suc – wonder what they’re thinking people are looking for here?

Feel free to check out the entire blacklist discovered so far. NFSW due to language – well, duh

Torrenting. You’re Doing It Wrong

Curiously, a couple of days after our article on ethical piracy, we got a cease-and-desist letter from our Internet service provider, telling us that they had received a complain regarding copyrighted material being shared from our IP address. Hmmm… Coincidence? Or something more sinister!!!!?!?! Actually, no, I think it was just coincidence, as the files in question actually were our son’s responsibility. We had to have The Talk with him, expressing our severe disappointment that he had been busted; and, in particular, that it was for episodes of Eureka. Sheesh. I think we’d have preferred it to have been German scat porn.

Naturally, we are complying with our ISP’s request, because sharing copyrighted material is bad, m’kay? But, if we were still doing so, here are a few simple steps we would probably be taking, to avoid incurring the wrath of the entertainment industry.

1. Avoid the obvious stuff. The MPAA, RIAA, etc. are driven by money, and they naturally concentrate their anti-piracy efforts on what is driving their revenue stream. That means movies that are still in cinemas, TV shows currently in their first run, newly-released CDs, etc. These are what they are monitoring for, so should generally be avoided. There’s enough interesting stuff out there, you shouldn’t need to be obsessed with getting the “latest” films.

2. Sharing is not caring. Leeching – downloading without uploading – is a good deal safer. ISP’s act on complaints from copyright holders, and it is relatively easy for them to tell who has a file available for sharing, compared to working out who has downloaded it. Once you’ve grabbed a file, remove the torrent so that it is no longer accessible by others online. Selfish? Yep. Safer? Definitely.

3. Make things somewhat tricky. It doesn’t take much, like the proverb says. You don’t have to run faster than the bear, just faster than the guy next to you. Simple steps like encrypting your torrent connection will help make things tougher, rather than operating an open door policy for anyone who wants to waltz in and see what’s in your Download directory.

4. Use Peerblock. This is an application which has an updated list of IP addresses belonging to the “bad guys” (from your point of view, this means media companies, Internet service providers, and so on) and will block them from making connection attempts to your PC. While, not fool-proof, and it can occasionally interfere with accessing things like newspaper websites, the application makes it tough enough the watchdogs will generally go after some other, lower-hanging fruit.

5. Use an intermediary. For about ten euros a month, you can buy yourself a “seedbox” – a share on a standalone computer, which you can use as the torrent box. It does all the downloading, rather than your PC, and since it’s not your IP address, your ISP won’t care. When the download is finished, you connect to the seedbox and retrieve your content over http, just like accessing any other website. If that’s too much effort, use a free service like torrific.com – you give them the torrent file, and they download it onto their server. No more torrent traffic.

6. Private trackers. These are sites where, to access the torrents, you need first to login. The torrent has additional information attached to it, that means only other members can see and share it. Generally these sites are themed, specializing in say, British TV, cult movies or Asian films, and some are invite only. There’s nothing to stop the MPAA from signing up for a membership, but there’s enough people using public trackers like The Pirate Bay, that it’s not worth the hassle.

7. Open All Hours. It seems a reasonable assumption to make that those hunting you down – both on the copyright holder’s side and at your hosting company – are doing so as a job, and thus likely work business hours, i.e. 9-5 Mon-Fri. There is therefore less chance of being nabbed if you kick your Torrent application on late on a Friday night, and then switch it off Sunday evening, or otherwise use non-peak hours.

8. Hide in plain sight. Don’t just Torrent illegal stuff. There’s plenty of public-domain movies, music and software out there that are perfectly legal to share over a Torrent. If you are doing that on a regular basis, then this will provide a background hum of legitimate traffic that will be less likely to draw the attention of your ISP. You may never watch that copy of Atom-Age Vampire, but it can still serve a purpose.

9. Stick to trusted sources. One recent trick used by authorities is to become seeders themselves, announcing a great-quality torrent of hot new release X. But anyone who connects to this gets their IP address immediately harvested, and passed on to their provider for action. As mentioned before, avoiding “hot new torrents” will help, but sticking to torrents posted by users who have a previous good history is even better.

10. Move out of the UK. Sorry, guys. The Digital Economy Act, passed by Parliament shortly before the election, is a scary piece of legislation, that gives the government wide-ranging powers to cut off Internet access to broadband users accused of file-sharing, and also block access to sites that are “likely to be used for or in connection with an activity that infringes copyright.” You guys have fun with that…