International Crisis Looms As Russians Pirate The Web Sheriff

Everyone's favorite anti-piracy outfit is facing a battle for its very identity today. Web Sheriff, the company best known for its softly-softly approach, has discovered that a company thousands of miles away is using the same name as them. But rather than send a cheeky takedown request as usual, Web Sheriff has launched an "intercontinental legal attack." It's the Cuban missile crisis all over again, but with sheriffs.

Say what you like about Web Sheriff, the company knows how to turn the issue of online piracy into a joke, or at least make it much more fun.

Rather than hang lowly bloggers by the neck until dead for sharing the latest pre-release warblings from Beyonce or GaGa, the company prefers the gentle touch and the art of persuasion, often delivered with a sharpness of wit rarely seen in swashbuckling circles.

With most of the company’s targets the approach seems to work quite well. Unless you’re The Pirate Bay or RLSLOG that is, then you just ignore them.

Nevertheless, while anti-piracy companies such as MediaDefender have in their time been both loathed and despised, head sheriff and company founder John Giacobbi is secretly loved by all of his enemies.

His friendly tone, multitude of media appearances and comedic manner never fail to impress pirates. One only has to look at the company’s immaculately edited Wikipedia page (and the almost completely positive tone throughout) to realize this is a very well-loved and respected outfit.

It will come as no surprise, then, that others should want to emulate the Sheriff.

“A digital Cold War has manifested itself as Web Sheriff, www.websheriff.com, the world’s leading anti-piracy protection agency, fires the first shots in an international legal battle against an alleged Russian imposter,” said the Sheriff yesterday.

“The rogue website, operating under the WebSheriff.ru banner, has not only copied Web Sheriff’s trademark, but also poses to offer similar services.”

A quick surf over to the page in question reveals a shiny robotic cyber-sheriff, touting services which do indeed seem similar to that of the carbon-based humanoid Sheriff we all know and love. Name aside, we saw no other graphical or trademark similarities apart from a star they used in the middle of a sheriffs badge back in February 2008.

If it came to an age-related revolver shootout, Web Sheriff UK would be quicker on the draw. Giacobbi founded that company in 2000, Web Sheriff Russia came along 2 years later. Why it’s taken 9 years to spot these Moscow-based pirate-hunters is anyone’s guess.

Battle of the Sheriffs

In keeping with his usual style, we presume that Giacobbi initially sent over a cheerful email to his Russian counterparts in the hope that their dispute could be settled amicably and at minimal cost. If he did, however, it didn’t work.

“These Russian imposters have picked the wrong company to try and rip-off. They’ll be cracking rocks in Siberia by the time we’ve finished with them,” he declared yesterday with menacing tone and a glint in his eye.

Without a hint of drama Giacobbi adds that he’s hired lawyers in both the US and USSR Russia to launch an “intercontinental legal attack” on his .RU namesakes.

“Even though we have become established as the world’s Web Sheriff, ironically we’re now fighting the same battle as we fight on behalf of our clients – who said the Cold War was over?!”

In the meantime, users requiring the services of the UK-based pirate pin-up should Google “Web Sheriff”. Those looking for services thousands of miles away in Russia, in Russian, against Russian file-sharing sites, should search for this term instead.

“This town ain’t big enough for the both of us,” Giacobbi concludes.

Time will tell what XMediaDigital, the company behind the Russian WebSheriff, has to say about that.

Here at TorrentFreak we love the Web Sheriff but we can’t help but notice that a golden opportunity for getting some free exposure was missed here.

Note for next publicity stunt press release: Don’t release it on a Friday/Saturday. Most of the tech press have the weekend off, getting coverage during the week is much easier.

Fortunately TorrentFreak never rests, especially if there’s an intercontinental anti-piracy bloodbath looming.

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