Anti-Piracy Investigator Bemoans Lack of Training, Meddling By Lawyers

An investigator who worked for the anti-piracy outfit behind Finland's Pirate Bay ISP blockage and two file-sharing cases where defendants collected huge fines, has been speaking of his lack of training at the organization. The man also says that he was so uncomfortable with the heavy modification of file-sharing related witness statements he created for the police, in the end he refused to sign them.

This week we reported on the conclusion of file-sharing cases against two men in Finland. A 36-year-old man was sentenced to four months in prison and a 326,734 euro ($432,955) rightsholder compensation bill, and a 22-year-old received a punishment of 220,077 euros ($291,625).

The outfit that brought the actions is known as Copyright Information and Anti-Piracy Center (CIAPC). Better known locally as TTVK, this anti-piracy group also successfully forced Finnish ISP Elisa to block The Pirate Bay.

TTVK also track individual file-sharers in pursuit of cash settlements but according to one of their employees who worked in anti-piracy tracking, he had less than optimum confidence in their operations.

MikroPC quotes a statement given to the police by Jaakko Nurmela, a man who worked at TTVK as a file-sharing investigator.

“I did not receive all the training I asked for,” said Nurmela, adding that he couldn’t be sure if the results being produced by the company’s surveillance software were correct. As highlighted in yesterday’s report, innocent people have been wrongfully accused.

Furthermore, Nurmela said he refused to sign a witness statement on behalf of the anti-piracy group because its lawyers interfered with his statement so much he felt that in the end it was no longer his testimony.

“Originally it was supposed to be a nearly 50-page report, where the whole thing was to be described and explained,” said Nurmela. “What I wrote was my opinion, but the main structure and all additions, modifications and edits came from [TTVK Managing Director] Antti Kotilainen and [TTVK lawyer] Jaana Pihkala. In fact, I felt that it was no longer my statement anymore, so I refused to sign it.”

Nurmela also gave some insight into how investigators like him gain access to private Direct Connect sharing hubs similar to the ones ran by the two men at the start of this article.

Usually hubs like these will insist that new members are only accepted if they are prepared to share lots of their own material too. The theory here is two fold – 1) that the range of material available on the hub will increase and 2) people sharing illicit files will also get themselves into trouble should they be an undercover investigator.

Nurmela was clearly concerned about his personal exposure in this respect and asked TTVK to get him written permission to share copyrighted files in order to do his undercover work. None was forthcoming and he was simply told to go ahead and no cases against him would ever enter a courtroom.

So here was a man sharing huge numbers of files on a criminal scale, with a private company telling him not to worry since basically they control who does and who doesn’t potentially face jail and huge fines. Joonas Mäkinen of Finland’s Pirate Party isn’t impressed with Nurmela’s revelations.

“I can say that it is extremely interesting – and unforgivable – that the people who so vigorously watch after copyright infringements on the internet with the mandate of collecting organisations, the entertainment industry and thus indirectly that of the artists and creators, are doing this while lacking understanding of the very technology they are supposed to be using,” Mäkinen told TorrentFreak.

TTVK counter by noting that anyone wrongfully accused has the right to complain and they will see to it that an investigation is launched.

“It is good to hear that TTVK does in fact have some sort of process to handle totally misdirected cases but that doesn’t take away one of the main problems that a private organization is obtaining the personal information of internet users,” Mäkinen concludes.

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