Warner Bros. Entertainment UK sets up anti-piracy internship


Swallow these facts: The Internet provides a wonderful means to keep society both lazy and entertained. By being all-access, just about anything is possible (even time travel… trust me, it’ll happen). When society allowed the Internet to exist, they either didn’t think too hard or were overwhelmed by its breadth of power. Actually, it’s probably both. The truth is, the Internet exists and people never thought about the consequences. What happens when you don’t think about the consequences? Shit happens, that’s what. Just think back to grade school, or when watching Saturday morning cartoons was a legit activity. If you pulled Suzie Tompkin’s hair, you were going to sit out at recess. Kids who didn’t think about this consequence scoffed and moped while sitting next to Mrs. Fallon. It’s the same thing with the stove. Kids touch stoves all the time, namely because they don’t yet realize the consequence, which is: It burns your fucking hand.

The people who unleashed the Internet are toddlers. They can’t deal with the ramifications and there’s not much else they can do because, really, it’s an unstoppable beast. (That might sound like a juvenile argument, but think about The Terminator and how technology screwed those folks over. They designed a machine to make things easier: fighting wars. We designed a platform to make other things easier: everything. Thus, the consequences are far more frightening and expanse.) Think about it, there are plenty of things the Internet is already responsible for: the shut down of most mom and pop stores, the forthcoming death of print, this website, and a renewed source of obesity. Of course, the most prevalent thing in news these days is music piracy.

If you thought the RIAA suing college students and grandparents over digital sharing was horrible, you’ll love this piece of news. (About time we got to the lede, right?) As Torrent Freak reports:

“Warner Bros Entertainment UK is recruiting tech-savvy students to help the company with their anti-piracy efforts. During the 12 month internship the students will have to maintain accounts at private BitTorrent sites, develop link-scanning bots, make trap purchases and perform various other anti-piracy tasks.”

Pretty clever, right? If only they realized it’s an absolute waste of time. Of course, it’s not so much a waste of time for the lucky student, who receives “a £17,500 salary for the 12 month internship that starts July 2010.” Not too shabby, though it does seem like a whole lot of work, especially when you know when it won’t stop anything. Here’s the full job description if you’re interested:

During the 12 month internship, duties will include: monitoring local Internet forums and IRC for pirated WB and NBCU content and in order to gather information on pirate sites, pirate groups and other pirate activities; finding new and maintaining existing accounts on private sites; scanning for links to hosted pirated WB and NBCU content and using tools to issue takedown requests; maintaining and developing bots for Internet link scanning system (training provided); preparing sending of infringement notices and logging feedback; performing trap purchases of pirated product and logging results; inputting pirate hard goods data and other intelligence into the forensics database; selecting local keywords and submitting local filenames for monitoring and countermeasure campaigns and periodically producing research documents on piracy related technological developments. Various training will be provided.

Now don’t think we’re in full support of piracy. We’re not. The idea of visiting record stores and talking with folks in the aisles is a practice and activity that should always exist. But if organizations like the RIAA or folks at record labels continue to employ these info-mining conventions, which inevitably only become a “scare tactic” for those online, what else will the future bring? Why can’t people see this is just a waste of time — sort of like the escalating drug war that continues to drain this country of billions and billions of dollars, producing little to no result. Are people still using drugs? Of course. Are drugs still prevalent? Absolutely. The same can be applied to music piracy… just replace “crystal meth” with “indie-rock” and “meth lab” with “BitTorrent” and “DEA agent” with “Warner Bros. UK intern.” Call it a stretch, but is it?

The problem is that the Internet is a broad avenue, producing cries on both sides. Labels and companies want to complain about its use, but the users who are being punished are technically just doing what’s always been done. Nobody slapped them on the wrist before about sharing music. That only happened when companies started losing money and decided to throw around laws. These laws, in turn, became arguable on both sides, mostly because no consequences had been made previously, only after the actions were already being practiced. Therefore, we’re in this situation where companies want to institute law, but users find these laws frivolous. To make matters worse, the medium of music is strictly mp3s these days. CD sales suffer not only because of piracy, but because people don’t want to buy a dated medium. The real problem with this is that you have to rely on the mp3, which started originally as a tool shared for free on-line. It’s sort of like a librarian deciding to charge money for books that were once checked out for free. Add that problem to a generation that’s been brought up on this sense of entitlement and you have a tougher war than the DEA ever fought. In other words, how will this stop anything?

The bottom line is: The Internet opened up a world of problems. This new tactic isn’t going to solve anything.

The moral of the story: Yes, the anti-piracy campaign is flat out a waste of time. People will continue to find new ways to snag and share music online. It’s common sense. We need new music like Greg the Meth Addict needs his fix. However, think about this for a second. We’re a generation of smart asses, raised by television and the Internet. We feel entitled. We’re spoiled in that sense. But, if you put things in perspective (even for just one minute out of your life), you’ll see that the anti-piracy campaign does have a point. It’s fucking stealing. (These last statements may surprise you, especially after this article, but hey, I didn’t say I was for piracy, I just said the avenues of anti-piracy are useless and a waste of time, money, and some people’s liberties. Like I said, it’s a “scare tactic”, nothing more and nothing less.) Think of it this way: If you can afford those $38 dollar pair of Chucks or the latest gadget from Apple, you can afford spending $7.99 at iTunes each week. Or, since we’re so apt to promote the idea of “independent” mediums (indie = independent, if you forgot), maybe a visit to your local record store wouldn’t hurt once and awhile. Besides, you might actually meet someone… as in human beings, flesh and blood, people.

Anyhow, I digress. Here, you can use this soapbox for something else now.