Student 'pirate hunters' hired by record labels

Summary:Who best to take on the job of hunting pirates than those who have probably pirated themselves?

Who best to hunt down prolific pirateeers than those who arguably understand the technology involved more than other age groups?

Students. Known for their free exchange and grabbing of files protected by copyright law, from music to books and television shows, it does seem that often when one reads legislation drafted in order to try and combat the issue, a basic fundamental understanding of how you acquire such files online is lacking. (SOPA comes to mind).

So, if understanding of file-sharing software, searches and the basic tenants of the way the Internet works is missing, why not lure those who may understand more -- and have probably pirated themselves -- to your side?

That is the mentality of a number of music labels in Europe. Producers including EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner are embracing this change in tactics, and are investing into an anti-piracy company that will take on the work of hunting down these illegal downloaders.

proMedia is one such company. From taking down cyberlockers to chasing cash settlements from downloaders, its a no-holds-barred deal. The Hamburg-based company has an exclusive contract to hunt down copyright infringers online on behalf of the IFPI-affiliated BVMI industry group.

Not only this, but TorrentFreak reports that the company also hire dozens of students to be their 'pirate hunting' team.

One of these students, known as "Peter", is a musician and teacher in training. According to the 26 year-old, he is one of 35 students hired by the company, and has worked with proMedia for four years.

It isn't just about exposing cyberlockers with the latest copy of Game of Thrones or Muse's album hidden within. The students use Google to search forums, scan blog posts and track down file-sharers who use networks including BitTorrent.

The result? Once you've been caught, you can expect a demand of a cash settlement, or court. The BVMI 'closed' 13,562 civil cases in 2008 on behalf of record labels, and the average request is between 950 - 1,200 euros (USD$1183 - 1495) for each settlement.

As a musician, Peter believes he has been personally struck by illegal downloading. After selling albums at concerts, he then found that even his friends were copying the music files -- which seems to suggest even if there is a personal connection, unless it is your personal file, mentally it does not become a consideration when file exchanges take place. He said:

"The only difference is that songs are apparently not perceived by many as a valuable commodity and everyone generally thinks they should be freely accessible. I do not think much of the politics of the pirates. As a musician myself, I feel degraded by them."

However, like so many others, Peter used to be a member of the community he now hunts.

"Anyone who claims to have never downloaded something is lying."

(via TorrentFreak)

Image credit: Darlyn Perez

Related:

Topics: Legal

About

Charlie Osborne, a medical anthropologist who studied at the University of Kent, UK, is a journalist, freelance photographer and former teacher. She has spent years travelling and working across Europe and the Middle East as a teacher, and has been involved in the running of businesses ranging from media and events to B2B sales. Charli... Full Bio

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