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Anti-’piracy’ groups fluff figures for gain

Copyright wars are dirty indeed
Wed Oct 05 2011, 13:13

A COPYRIGHT COP has admitted that he and others have been paid to boost illegal downloading statistics and create 'piracy' scare stories in support of the MAFIAA.

In an interview with Torrentfreak, Australian private detective Gavin "Tex" Warren said that, amongst other things, he was expected to link 'piracy' to drug trafficking, which is a suggestion often put forward by rights holders.

Tex worked for the MPAA funded AFACT in Australia and has been a private investigator for around ten years. Before then he worked for the Australian Federal Police. He worked for AFACT for five years, according to Torrentfreak, and during that time he was exposed to the various methods used by the rights holders.

"I had an undercover operative who worked for me (name withheld) that I shall refer to as 'Short Round'. We were contracted to make purchases of DVDs and back then, VHS tapes of copyright infringing movies," he explained.

"In our first operation which lasted about six months, we had infiltrated a manufacturing 'laboratory' and the dodgy sales team at the local trash and treasure market."

Warren and Short Round then made what are referred to as "trap purchases" and presented their information to the Australian Victoria Police. This information lead to a succesful operation for the police, and gained column inches for the anti-'piracy' lobby.

"The press were informed and all was tied up in a neat bundle. Column inches were filled, sound bites were created and everyone was happy, except the pirates," Warren said.

Other tactics were tried out in Australia, including the idea that statistics should be boosted in order to make the problem, which at the time related to offline 'piracy', seem more severe than it actually was. A meeting with head of AFACT Neil Gane showed Tex how far the group wanted to go.

"He was adamant that we needed to boost our statistics to make the media sit up and take notice and that the large numbers would make it easier to get the local Police interested. This was especially difficult to do as local police had no jurisdiction over copyright infringing product and the AFP were desperately short on manpower. We were encouraged to find links to drugs and stolen goods wherever possible," he added.

"We discussed the formula for extrapolating the potential street value earnings of 'laboratories' and we were instructed to count all blank discs in our seizure figures as they were potential product. Mr Gane also explained that the increased loss approximation figures were derived from all forms of impacts on decreasing cinema patronage right through to the farmer who grows the corn for popping... 2002 impact estimates were $100 million to today's figure of $1.36 billion in nine years.... That's a lot of extrapolating."

Once AFACT had the police's ear and the newspapers' attentions it was up to Tex to take its claims further, and he admitted that occasionally he had to sprinkle the threat of terrorism into his discussions.

"Funded solely by MPAA, AFACT lobbies hard for changes to Australian law and enhance the sexiness of their case by making vague references to links to terrorism. Sometimes not so vague," he added.

"I was instructed to tell police officers that the profit margins were greater than dealing heroin. It was bizarre. A twisted logic that AFACT spewed out with monotonous regularity." µ

 

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