Wednesday, March 31, 2010

14. warner brothers' spy game

here's a question for you: how much would it take for you to snitch on your free-content-lovin peers? what's your price?

there's always been rumors of plants from the movie industry spying on peer to peer networks - we know it happens all the time, but they're as about as shady at confirming it as pirates are about sneaking some of that delicious content. but here's finally some official proof regarding this particular tactic - in the form of a paid damn internship. warner brothers entertainment UK has teamed up with the university of manchester to offer a paid position as an "anti-piracy intern." but it gets better.

it pays £17,500. that's $26,000 US for a one year student internship. the job description:
- 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
- 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)
- performing trap purchases of pirated product and logging results

and the list goes on. seems like a solid way of getting qualified programmers to help stem the flow of pirated media over p2p networks and irc, doesn't it? then why do i have a tiny voice in the back of my head saying that over 50% of applicants to this job are applying for the chance to spend a year learning how to break WB anti-piracy techniques and DRM? after a year entrenched in warner brothers entertainment, this intern is going to be an expert on the stuff. will they use their powers for good?

anyway, WB is putting a lot of effort into cutting the rate of their media being copied and distributed. which i kind of understand. but as i mentioned in earlier posts, this kind of explicit method of trying to derail piracy efforts is, as it has been, the wrong way of going about it. how about hiring an intern to help come up with a way to make people want to buy your media rather then downloading it?

WB has been making some shady decisions these days. take their recent dvd deal with blockbuster. blockbuster's dvd rentals and online numbers have been absolutely railed by redbox, and outright dominated by netflix. blockbuster posted a loss upwards of $500 million last year while netflix was posting gross profits of over $400 million. even though blockbuster is no longer much more than a sinking ship, WB tied their anchor to it, giving blockbuster a four week head start on dvd releases over netflix, redbox, and anyone else. four weeks. that means if you want, say, the blind side on dvd right now, you'd have no option but to get it from blockbuster, because you're netflix account won't have it for another 28 days.

... or you can pirate it.

see how i wrapped that one up real nice?


  1. I was wondering why Holmes and Blindside weren't in the redbox yet. That's quite a sweetheart deal for Blockbuster but not going to save them.

  2. yeah i'm still not sure how they scored that one