Student 'pirate hunters' hired by record labels

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


Topic: Legal

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  • 35 against 350 million?

    Depending on whose numbers you believe, there are hundreds of millions of "pirates" out there, including 60 million in Europe alone. And the number is always going up, never down. And the tools and technologies are not standing still; we'll see torrents being replaced as the tool of choice in the next two years, and file locker sites continue moving to countries with little or no access by law enforcement types. ISP firewalls have already been defeated even as they are being deployed, and they are not happy at being forced to spend money on ineffective countermeasures that drive up operating costs and cause customer support issues.

    In short, it's still very much a one-sided battle. Yes there are a few high-profile causualties, but you have a better chance of hitting the jackpot than you do being hit with a file-sharing "bill".
    terry flores
  • Not surprising

    Make no mistakes, the entertainment industry has openly declared war on the Internet. They don't want to innovate to keep up with the times, so they're using every weapon in their arsenal to try and turn back the clock to the 1980s, no matter how much of our culture ends up as collateral damage.

    And, as Dr. T'soni so succinctly put it in Mass Effect 3, every war has its traitors.
  • Beating a dead horse

    For years the music and entertainment industries have had a free ride...execs, lawyers, and other "add no useful value to the product" parasites have lived plush lives by using their combined wealth to bully people into complying. The internet has changed that, and while they keep trying to invent ways to stop people from sharing files, it's like trying to duct-tape a termite-infested house.

    There is no real reason why a person writing a hit song or movie should be set for life (plus the parasites mentioned above) when someone else has to work year after year to live. People should be paid for what they do, but writing a song is not so essentially important that a few hours or days work should result in being set for the rest of your life, because you have hired lawyers and bullies to collect for you.

    Maybe I'll just get the copyright to a few musical notes, so anyone using those notes has to pay me; then I'll hire a bunch of thugs to collect.

    These guys are desparately and frantically trying to find a way to perpetuate their dead lifestyle. Certainly, musicians, actors, and others directly involved need to be paid in proportion to their efforts and what they produce, but none of this has much to do with that. It has everything to do with greed.

    I bought a copy of "Hound Dog" when it was released in 1956 or so. And another later on an LP. If I download a copy now, of the same song, am I cheating (dead) Elvis out of his cut? I've already paid him for his efforts, yet some RIAA vulture is likely to have his expensive lawyers try to extort large sums of money. And, Elvis is dead anyway, does that mean his descendants should all get paid every time someone wants that song? Maybe, maybe not, but it's not a clear, right/wrong answer, it's very debatable, and the industry vultures don't want to discuss, they only want to collect what is not theirs to begin with.
    • Free ride?

      Whether or not people who own music deserve to collect on it for a long time, those were the terms of the contract when they created the music or bought the rights to it. If you want to change that for future music production, fine, but it is unethical to swindle creative people and investors with a bait-and-switch.
      • "it is unethical to swindle creative people"

        go after music labels then - they are the ones robing "creative people" - been doing it for looong time...
    • Oh really?

      "There is no real reason why a person writing a hit song or movie should be set for life ... "

      So are YOU going to dictate how much someone earns from his/her livelyhood? Why do I get the feeling that if YOU were in charge of deciding who got what, that YOUR services would be at the top of the pay list?

      In the USA at least (for now) people are legally able to earn whatever someone else is willing to pay. If you think that's unfair, tough beans. Nothing in life is "fair" so get over it. Better yet, why not try to be PART of it instead of insisting that everyone else needs to be down at your level?
  • piracy or filesharing? choose which you are talking about and stick to it

    piracy and file-sharing are not the same thing, they break or infringe on different laws and mixing up both is a ploy by the media cartel to try and turn copyright infringers into something much more.

    If you are going to write about this subject, please try and refrain from reinforcing those tactics.

    Anything that can be digitised WILL be shared. That cat is out of the bag with no return. Music recordings will no longer make someone rich, maybe in the same way that this blog post will not make you rich, you will have to keep writing each day and produce new works which may provide for your chosen lifestyle, maybe not.
    A "musician" plays music, making recordings was a revenue stream created by the advancement of technology, and has now been vastly reduced by advancement of technology. The Musician remains though, and all the revenue streams available to him or her pre-"the recording industry" are still available.
  • What's next?

    What's next, the DEA hiring student dope snitches?
    • Was not surprise me

      But I am pretty sure they already do that.
  • Snitching...

    Oh, yeah - we all be better off if younger generation snitches on each other, right? Oh, wait - wasn't snitching on one's neighbor what kept USSR running for 70+ years? Oh, yes - i remember like i was there, wait - I WAS there!
  • Thanks

    I guest I will just keep away from the annoying music and arts and literature brats, I mean students.
  • record labels should think of a more creative way of making money

    by leveraging on the power of the internet instead of killing it.