The guys at Torrentfreak do a terrific job of covering the torrent and p2p scene. I’m always amazed at the stories they break and the excellent writing. And if I understand it correctly, they do it in their spare time when not at their day jobs.
Last weekend they broke another story that I found particularly interesting. Torrentfreak’s Ernesto reported on DigiRights Solutions (DRS) a German company that published a powerpoint sales and marketing presentation to push its anti-piracy services.
After initially running through some pretty mundane stats about how much online piracy is costing copyright owners, the DRS presentation goes through their process of finding and pursuing users who illegally download songs and movies. They explain that after they find the alleged downloader, they send out an email demanding a payment of 450 euro ($650) per file. DRS keeps 80% of whatever they collect thus leaving 20%, or 90 euro ($130) per download, for copyright holders.
Then suddenly the presentation turns into a pitch comparing the profitability of legal and illegal downloads. Ernesto goes on to report :
“A legal online purchase of a song brings about €0.60 into the pockets of the copyright holders compared to the €90 per alleged file-sharer that pays up. So, the copyright holders get 150 times more from pursuing filesharers than from selling actual music, the company claims.
However, not everyone who receives a letter will pay up, but DRS says that an impressive 25% of all recipients do without asking questions. This figure is much higher than most people assumed previously.
DRS states that it’s realistic to track and pursue about 5,000 filesharers per month per title. Considering that 25% of those people pay the €90, then the copyright holders would have to make about 150,000 online sales. Which is equal to the number of sales that are required for a Gold record award in Germany.”
Needless to say, this is absolutely bizarre and outrageous. Rarely are such blatant attempts made to turn piracy into a profit center, especially when the labels do not have to share this type of revenue with the creators.
Evidently DRS is currently successfully operating in the UK and Germany at the moment, but are clearly looking toward other territories. The fact that the UK government, or any government in fact, would allow such legalized extortion is beyond the pale. I understand that European governments are moving quickly to quash illegal downloading and that’s fine. But to allow and condone the organized extortion of its citizens by a private for profit company heralds new lows in the war against piracy.
This brings to mind the famous confrontation between Joseph Welch and Senator Joe McCarthy at the Army-McCarthy Senate Hearings in 1954 when Welch effectively put an end to McCarthy’s reign of terror when he said “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”
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