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Warner Using College Students to Fight Piracy

by Eric Volpe on March 29, 2010 · 1 comment

In an uncharacteristically savvy move, Warner Bros Entertainment has identified a new potential ally in their ongoing fight against those pesky, tech-savvy, file-sharing kids: tech-savvy, file-sharing kids.

According to an article on TorrentFreak, Warner Bros Entertainment has allotted funds to employ “IT literate” interns who will be tasked with creating trap purchases, maintaining accounts at private file-sharing sites, and the “(more boring)” task of sending takedown and infringement notices.

The interns will focus primarily on the illegal sharing of Warner Bros. and NBC Universal copyright-protected material, but will this initiative make a difference in Warner’s fight against P2P sharing?

It’s tough to say. Many comments to the TorrentFreak article sarcastically encourage the initiative, declaring it a great way to “spy on [Warner] and sabotage wherever I can.” One commenter, Dude, sees it thusly, “This is a chance, my friends, to play a bigger role in this war. Let’s all apply!”

The most interesting comment there, however, belongs to someone called Jay, who theorizes that there is a very specific reason that Warners is using interns for this work: to avoid legal trouble.

They certainly aren’t compensated like interns; this dirty work pays £17,500/year. But many torrent sites require their users to electronically sign usage agreements to get in. And because of what Warners is asking these interns to do (basically, breach the aforementioned agreements), the company’s decision to use interns (read: not employees) enables them to sidestep any litigious accountability.

It’s tough to say whether this is part of a larger, more comprehensive strategy on Warner’s part, or just the latest idea in the major labels’ mostly frustrating fight against piracy. Piracy sites are notorious for their hydra-like nature, in that if you kill one, another two soon emerge.  And if Jay happens to be right, and there really is some measure of protection afforded to these torrent hubs, then cutting all of the heads off is going to be really tough.

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