UK Government Funds Anti-Piracy Outfit With Taxpayer Money

The UK Government’s Technology Strategy Board has awarded £250,000 to the London-based anti-piracy outfit MUSO. The company will use the public funding to develop one of their new anti-piracy tools, which it says will benefit rightsholders and the local tech industry. Interestingly, a quick look at MUSO's clients shows that despite the public funding, the company's most prominent customers are not based in the UK.

Muso-logoThe anti-piracy business is booming, with thousands of companies making a decent living by helping rightsholders to protect their work.

London-based MUSO is one of these outfits. The company has been around for a few years already and has evolved into one of the most active senders of DMCA requests to Google.

Earlier this month MUSO broke the one million URL barrier in respect of their DMCA takedown requests, while charging their clients between 8 and 24 cents per link. However, the company has bigger plans and is developing a new technology to convert pirates into paying customers.

To fund this new technology the company applied for a “Smart Award” grant from the Government’s Technology Strategy Board. After a careful review of MUSO’s proposal the Government awarded the anti-piracy outfit £250,000.

MUSO director Christopher Elkins is delighted with the news and says that the money will eventually benefit the UK tech sector and copyright holders.

“The grant award gives our R&D team an extremely robust financial position from which to develop this ambitious and forward-thinking product, to the benefit of the UK tech sector, and rights holders looking for new ways to further drive the online growth of great content,” Elkins says.

The question is, however, to what degree the UK will benefit from the investment. A quick look at MUSO’s top clients based on Google’s Transparency Report shows only foreign copyright holders.

The top five consists of the Indian movie studio “Eros International”, Canadian based “Entertainment One”, the Dutch publisher “Meulenhoff Boekerij”, “Nuclear Blast” from Germany, and Norway’s “Nordisk Film Distribution Norway.”

Another prominent associate of MUSO is the Russian social network VKontakte, who signed an agreement earlier this year allowing the UK company to monitor and report uploads of copyrighted material.

How the new technology will convert pirates into paying customers remains a mystery for now. The company is said to be starting a trial in the second quarter of next year but further details are lacking.

TorrentFreak contacted MUSO for more details on their plans but we have yet to receive a response. Previously the company announced a browser addon which will allow people to report infringing torrent and cyberlocker links to the company, but these have yet to be released to the public.

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