Can they really be this stupid?

2004-09-02 00:40

Here’s a delightful message I just got. It’s funny enough to be interesting, so I’m including it.

From MAILER-DAEMON  Wed Sep  1 14:15:55 2004
Return-Path: <MAILER-DAEMON>
Received: from ( [])
	by (8.12.11/8.12.9) with ESMTP id i81JFtuS004377
	for <>; Wed, 1 Sep 2004 14:15:55 -0500 (CDT)
Received: from ( [])
	by (8.11.6/8.10.1) with ESMTP id i81JFIK12631
	for <>; Wed, 1 Sep 2004 14:15:19 -0500 (CDT)
Received: from MEN20 ([]) by with Microsoft SMTPSVC(5.0.2195.6713);
	 Wed, 1 Sep 2004 15:12:00 -0400
To: Seebach A Peter <>
Subject: Case ID 9282959 - Notice of Claimed Infringement
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/mixed; Boundary="--PTCP_00001beb031fa607d4"
Message-ID: <00001bec031fa707d4@[]>
Date: Wed, 01 Sep 2004 15:11:53 -0400
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 01 Sep 2004 19:12:00.0808 (UTC) FILETIME=[8EF34A80:01C49057]
X-Spam-Checker-Version: SpamAssassin 2.60 (1.212-2003-09-23-exp) on
X-Spam-Status: No, hits=2.1 required=5.0 tests=EXCUSE_16,FROM_NO_LOWER
	autolearn=no version=2.60
X-Spam-Level: **

Okay, a few interesting points baout the headers. The most interesting thing is the total lack of a normal “From:” line. Or a “Reply-To:”. In other words, if you try to reply to this message, your reply is sent to the only guess left – the envelope header, “MAILER-DAEMON”. That doesn’t go to them. So, in a fairly practical sense, the message is forged.

Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8
Content-Transfer-Encoding: Quoted-Printable

This is a very poor choice of formats, but it has the additional useful qualifier that it causes my mailer to warn me that this “may be a binary file”, as indeed it turns out it is.

=EF=BB=BFEntertainment Software Association
1211 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036 USA

Attention: Piracy Enforcement – DMCA Officer
Telephone: 202-223-2400
Fax: 202-223-2401

Okay, here we see several things. First, a “real” email address. Also, the crucial data which caused this to become a “binary” file – the “=EF=BB=BF” at the top of the page. I don’t know what that’s supposed to look like. I get an i with a diaresis, a double-greater-than, and an upside-down question mark.

We also see the word “piracy”. Piracy is what happens when men with cutlasses and parrots kill you and take your stuff. The use of that term to refer to someone allegedly copying a video game is pure propaganda.

September 1, 2004=20

Dear Seebach, A Peter,=20

I am an authorized representative of the Entertainment Software Association= (“ESA”), which represents the intellectual property interests of twenty-fo=
ur (24) companies that publish interactive games for video game consoles,=20=
personal computers, handheld devices and the Internet. =20

(The “=20” and =s at the ends of lines are the “quoted-printable” encoding. They’re harmless.)

This paragraph contains a manifest falsehood. According to the ESA’s web site, they have 26 members.

ESA is providing this letter of notification pursuant to the Digital Millen=
nium Copyright Act and 17 USC Sec. 512 © to make Digital Solutions, Inc.=20=
aware of material on its network or system that infringes the exclusive cop=
yright rights of one or more ESA members. This notice is addressed to you=20=
as the agent designated by Digital Solutions, Inc. to receive notifications= of claimed infringement, as so reflected in the current records of the U.S=
. Copyright Office. Under penalty of perjury, we hereby affirm that the=20=
ESA is authorized to act on behalf of the ESA members whose exclusive copyr=
ight rights we believe to be infringed as described herein.

But they never tell me which member or members they think are infringed. (Note also that “Digital Solutions, Inc.” is long-dead; I suppose we should update our ARIN records.)

ESA has a good faith belief that the Internet site found at
continues to infringe the rights of one or more ESA members by offering for= download one or more unauthorized copies of one or more game products prot=
ected by copyright, including, but not limited to:

Doom 3 (Retail version)=20

Okay, they identify the product, so we assume they’re representing iD Software. But they don’t say.

The unauthorized copies of such game product[s] appearing on, or made avail=
able through, such site are listed and/or identified thereon by their title=
s, variations thereof, or depictions of associated artwork (any such game=20=
titles, copies, listings and/or other depictions of, or references to, any=20=
contents of such game product, are hereinafter referred to as “Infringing=20=
Material”). Based on the information at its disposal on 9/1/2004 at 7:31=20=
a.m. EDT (GMT -0400), ESA believes that the statements in this Notice are=20=
accurate and correctly describe the infringing nature and status of the Inf=
ringing Material.

Okay. What information do they have? They don’t say. They certainly give no indication of exactly what they’re looking at. We’ll be looking at the information that exists in the external world shortly; suffice it to say that, if they believe this, they have probably been consuming schedule 1 controlled substances.

Accordingly, ESA hereby requests Digital Solutions, Inc. to immediately rem=
ove or disable access to the Infringing Material at the URL address identif=
ied above.

Note that no URL has been provided, or “identified above”.

I think at this point I can use the term “idiots” without fear of being accused of libel.

Should you have questions, please contact the ESA at the above listed maili=
ng address or by replying to this email. Please also include the above not=
ed Reference Number in the subject line of all email correspondence.

We thank you for your cooperation in this matter. Your prompt response is=20=


Robert L. Hunter, IV
Entertainment Software Association

Hmm. I wonder. Does Mr. Hunter actually exist? Does he review these emails? Was this sent by Mr. Hunter, or by an automated program? Read on, MacDuff!

Infringement Detail:
Infringing Work: Doom 3 (Retail version)
Filepath: /if-archive/phoenix/games/pc/
First Found: 1 Sep 2004 07:31:12 EDT (GMT -0400)
Last Found: 1 Sep 2004 07:31:12 EDT (GMT -0400)
Filesize: 114k
IP Address:
IP Port: 21
Network: FTP
Protocol: FTP

Well, there you have it. It’s the “” file found on the Interactive Fiction archive.

Impressive, this modern technology, that manages to crunch a modern game down to 114k, when the original probably takes up at least one full CD.

Even more interesting that the file in question is dated 1999 (although they don’t show this):


$ ls -l
-rw-rw-r--  1 seebs  wheel  116471 Oct 17  1999

Pretty impressive. Apparently, this “retail” copy of Doom3 somehow got leaked nearly 5 years ago.


Note: The information transmitted in this Notice is intended only for the=20=
person or entity to which it is addressed and may contain confidential and/=
or privileged material. Any review, reproduction, retransmission, dissemin=
ation or other use of, or taking of any action in reliance upon, this infor=
mation by persons or entities other than the intended recipient is prohibit=
ed. If you received this in error, please contact the sender and delete=20=
the material from all computers.

This message is about as persuasive as the “IF U WORK FOR THE GOVERMENT U ARE TRESSPASING AND MUST LEAVE AT 1CE!” messages one gets from warez people trying to cover their tracks.

Amusingly… The site they’re complaining about is a mirror site. So. I could remove the file, but it’d just come back, and they’ve just prohibited the people maintaining the master site from deleting the file. Luckily, no one is likely to be stupid enough to take any action in reliance on a message this stupid.

Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64
Content-Disposition: attachment; filename=“signature.cer”
Content-Type: application/octet-stream; name=“signature.cer”


Yeah, whatever.

Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64
Content-Disposition: attachment; filename=“9282959.xml”
Content-Type: application/octet-stream; name=“9282959.xml”


This bit here is just an XML file containing a little thing with all the information from above; no idea why they sent it.


Let’s see what that file actually is.

          This directory contains MS-DOS executables of games released
           by Topologika Ltd., who have now given permission for these
                       games to be freely redistributed.
           Several of the games were originally written on the Phoenix
                    system at Cambridge University, England.


Index this file Acheton, by Jon Thackray, David Seal and Jonathan Partington. Avon, by Jonathan Partington. Countdown to Doom, by Peter Killworth. Return to Doom, by Peter Killworth. Last Days of Doom, by Peter Killworth. Hamil, by Jonathan Partington. Hezarin, by Alex Shipp and Steve Tinney. Murdac, by Jonathan Partington. Philosophers Quest, by Peter Killworth. Spy Snatcher, by Jonathan Partington and Jon Thackray.


Apparently, despite the fact that neither “Topologika” nor “Peter Kilworth” is listed as a member of the ESA, they think that they are representing these people.

Or maybe they are too stupid to read the file describing this. But then, they thought a game which (I assume) is a little larger than 114k somehow got compressed into that tiny file.

In short… Someone wrote a really DUMB web scraper, and harassed me with it.

When I get a chance, I’m gonna set up my phone recording device (Minnesota is a single-party consent state!) and call them. And we will have FUN!

Peter Seebach



  1. Great story.

    PS:=EF=BB=BF is an UTF8 BOM (byte order marker) and should be supported by most non-archaic mail clients.

    — flynn · 2004-09-03 01:57 · #

  2. That's some mighty compression you've got there, hehe. I wonder if Mr. Hunter's like that in real life, all crazy and such.

    Matt · 2004-09-03 14:37 · #

  3. I think the full Doom 3 takes up several CDs, or one DVD.

    — Gunther Schmidl · 2004-09-03 14:51 · #

  4. The signature.cer block contains an X.509 certificate issued by Verisign, a persona certificate for the email address Of course, since there is no actually signature of the email, this is meaningless.

    Richard Silverman · 2004-09-03 14:55 · #

  5. By the way, the game data for Id's Doom 3 takes up three full CDs, or something like 1850MB. Your compression would have to be 99.994% effecient. Perhaps you should call up this company and attempt to sell them your new compression routines. If it really is Doom 3 like they say, those routines would be worth a fortune!

    — reallyasi9 · 2004-09-03 14:57 · #

  6. This stuff is just inviting any self respecting web citizen to put up such files, along with usher.mp3 and etc etc.

    Bury the buggers in paperwork. Social engineering vs. know-nothing lawyer types. Easy choice.

    Coofer Cat · 2004-09-03 15:16 · #

  7. Wow, if the compression is REALLY that good, it must be from the future! Being 1999 for the date on the file, thatÂ’s some good stuff, it will fit on a floppy disk 14 times. Think of the media saving costs for ID! So, you have got time-travelling, 99.994% efficiency compression, and you are sitting on it! You could be rich! Try and sell it to the RIAA, see if they take the bait eh?
    Yeah of course! (!)

    Chris Clancey · 2004-09-03 15:28 · #

  8. This is an easy one as it's happening quite a lot lately.

    The record/film industries are paying percentages to anyone who can find "pirated" material. So lots of idiots with really poor crawlers look for anything with a title that matches, period.

    One fun way to mess with them would be for *everyone* to start sharing blank files called Metallica, Madonna, I,Robot, Star Wars, etc.

    Good luck! I'll check back after I convert all my word docs from work to famous literary titles....

    — Tom Wiggins · 2004-09-03 15:42 · #

  9. You could have easily written a program that compresses it down to 1 bit. Make a program that sees "1" as all the 1's and 0's that make up Doom3 ;)

    — Darren Torre · 2004-09-03 16:11 · #

  10. Please note that if the person who put the work up sends a counter DMCA notice saying it is not infringing, the work can be restored and they then must sue. Also, most people who get one of these takedown notices are unaware that giving a false DMCA notice can subject the copyright holder who gave it to damages (since it would be a case of perjury) and possibly attorneys fees for the other party defending a false claim. I'm waiting for someone to demand damages for DMCA misuse, it might get them to be a little more careful.

    Paul Robinson · 2004-09-03 16:13 · #

  11. --- snip ---
    Good luck! I'll check back after I convert all my word docs from work to famous literary titles....
    --- /snip ---

    you may want to rethink that. many famous literary works are already in the public domain.

    Darl McBride · 2004-09-03 16:18 · #

  12. It's not so amazing that you're able to compress it into 114K. I'm assuming you're using a lossy (lousy :-) compression scheme, of course.

    — The Ugly Troll · 2004-09-03 17:34 · #

  13. I have no intention of removing a file that is nothing like "Doom 3". If these people ever return my calls -- or even if they don't, when I call them back -- I plan to ask them to apologize and start talking about compensation for my wasted time. This was incredibly stupid, and it becomes more laughable the more I look at it.

    seebs · 2004-09-03 17:50 · #

  14. BTW, I thought that looked like a byte-order marker. I just have no idea why one was included in something that was, other than a byte-order marker, 100% untouched plain text which didn't need it.

    And yeah, my mail client is archaic. It also CANNOT POSSIBLY GET A VIRUS. I'll take that tradeoff.

    seebs · 2004-09-03 17:52 · #

  15. You know, there are 8 posts archived on Google Groups from May 12, 1981 to Sep 3, 1990 featuring the phrase "doom 3". Surely that means that your time-travelling, 99.9%-efficient compression scheme had already infringed upon iD's copyrights before the Entertainment Software Association even existed! And several years before the first Doom came out on the market!

    How dare you, you evil time-travelling, insanely-efficient-compression-developing thief!

    — onethreethreeseven · 2004-09-03 19:09 · #

  16. for thoes that don't know DOOM 3 fills every bit of 3 CDs

    — juenger1701 · 2004-09-03 22:15 · #

  17. Isn't the slashdot effect supposed to be like a swarm of locusts or somethin'?

    — seebs_lawyer · 2004-09-03 22:32 · #

  18. I will start making zip-files named after games and name my voice-recordings after some MTV-hits. Then I will place these files on my website and tell all my friends to do the same. Everything to fuck with organisations like RIAA and ESA.

    Andy_in_sweden · 2004-09-03 23:20 · #

  19. Would ID be liable to pay damages to Peter Killworth
    for copyright infringement ? Who owns the name Doom 3 now ?

    — John · 2004-09-04 02:25 · #

  20. Why call them at all? Obviously they're trying to spread FUD. If it becomes widely known that these kinds of messages are nothing else, people won't take them seriously. What guarantees can they have that you have received the message at all? I delete hundreds of emails coming from spammers weekly. We can keep them busy seeking by themselves for the truth of their claims instead of doing their job.

    But I adhere to the comment by Paul Robinson that someone should sue them back.

    There have already been other precedents like the one in World of Spectrum:

    Surprisingly it was signed by the same Robert L. Hunter.

    — Pedro G · 2004-09-04 05:04 · #

  21. It's not even really named Doom 3 -- that's just the filename, not published title of the works therein (which is "Last Days of Doom", which I am guessing is the 3rd in a trilogy of Doom-titled adventures of some sort). It's like naming your pictures MichaelMoore01-09.jpg. You're not infringing on Moore's trademark, it's just a filename to identify what the picture is of.

    Mike Moore · 2004-09-04 11:34 · #

  22. You should submit this crap to I really wish more people (rather than just Google) would post notices there.

    — Anon · 2004-09-04 19:45 · #

  23. We have guessed it all along, but now we know for sure. These people are stupid. ;-)

    James · 2004-09-06 21:26 · #

  24. I sent the following to ID Software (CCed to the ESA) and yes I was really just going to go out and buy ID's Doom 3.

    Dear Sir/Madam,
    As I recently got a PC capable of running Doom 3, I was going to go out and buy a copy from my local games store some time this week.

    However, I am now having second thoughts due to certain claims made by Robert L. Hunter of the Entertainment Software Association (which seems to be some kind of unethical and possibly unlawful protection racket) apparently on the behalf of the copyright holder of Doom 3 (which I assume is yourselves). This organisation also claim to represent you on their WWW site.

    These wrongful claims (sent by email) are detailed on the WWW . Google reveals that similar claims have been made by the same Robert L. Hunter (claiming to represent a different organisation) elsewhere regarding your Doom game. Further searching will reveal that he seems to be responsible for an awful lot of unwarranted and unlawful threatening letters and emails.

    If this organisation were not instructed by yourselves to make these claims, may I apologise for making this assumption, and suggest that you make this publically known and consider possible action for libel and perjury against this organisation.

    If they were, as they claim, instructed by yourselves, may I suggest you re-consider your involvement with this organisation in light of the possible bad publicity and loss of sales that such involvment might invoke. Unfortunately, if this is the case, I (and I'm sure many other gamers) will not be using your software until such time as such involvement seises. I would also warn you that legal action has been taken against other companies who have employed organisations like the ESA to send these "DMCA" notices.

    Yours faithfully,
    Joe Ll. G. Blakesley

    — Joe Lywelyn Grififth Blakesley · 2005-01-16 21:21 · #

  25. So...did ID reply?

    — bob · 2005-07-28 22:07 · #

  26. Peter Killworth wrote his "Doom" trilogy in the 1980s. This is a trio of classic text adventures (I wrote some of the other Topologika games).

    Jonathan Partington · 2006-01-14 05:36 · #