Still, when everything boils down, the hunter and the hunted ultimately find themselves on the same digital battlefield, equipped with broadly similar tools, underpinned by mostly the same technical rules. Tradition seems to allow pirates to break and make up rules as they go along, while Hollywood is free to amend legislation to take up the slack.
There’s no one-size-fits-all scenario in the piracy wars, but in general, pirates need their services to stay visible at all times while staying invisible themselves. The challenge for MPA/ACE investigators is almost exactly the opposite. Find a chink in the armor, obtain information, and then exploit every possible resource to remove anonymity.
Victory in the endgame – rendering once-visible sites permanently invisible via a binding legal agreement – relies on meticulous evidence. The MPA wants to add two more people to its Global Content Protection team to help harvest that from the internet.
Internet Investigator (OSINT)
On a basic level, most internet users have dabbled in the world of Open Source Intelligence (OSINT). A Google search will return information retrieved from the open internet, but that’s just one tool out of the hundreds available to OSINT investigators, including those working in the anti-piracy niche.
“The Internet Investigator (OSINT) is primarily responsible for conducting detailed investigations of key players and other global targets involved in copyright infringement, including the investigation of individuals and organizations,” the MPA’s job listing reads.
The position demands someone with skills in OSINT and attribution methods. In a nutshell, this means leveraging openly available information to identify an individual and/or a group/organization and then being able to link those targets to illegal activity, direct or secondary infringement, for example.
Social media research is unsurprisingly cited by the MPA as an area of interest. Many pirate service operators use platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to attract customers and service existing ones. On the plus side for investigators, the volume of data that can be extracted from these platforms and their users is extraordinary.
Gathering information on pirate services and those who run them can be relatively easy, but that’s only part of the job. Any specific intelligence collected may also be utilized more broadly, requiring the candidate to produce “forensically sound and actionable investigative reports.”
After obtaining intelligence on a target, a decision must be taken on how to proceed. Is civil action appropriate or is behavior more suited to a criminal investigation? The candidate will offer recommendations based on the intelligence at hand.
As pirate services disappear or get taken down, new ones tend to appear. The successful candidate will be required to proactively hunt for potential future targets and analyze them, which sounds easy but almost certainly isn’t.
The skill here is to identify a new site’s potential for growth, based on factors available today. An approach that treats all new entrants equally risks the misallocation of resources to dozens of low-key threats. That doesn’t mean MPA/ACE won’t happily take them down but priority targets are called that for a reason.
Of course, hindsight is always 20/20 and some initially innocuous players will inevitably slip through the gaps. Datasets that indicate disproportionate interest on social media may help to reduce that – in tandem with dozens…and dozens of other sources.
A second managerial position will see the successful candidate “assist the Global Content Protection team in shaping, contributing to, and executing the team’s enforcement strategy.”
Other responsibilities include the following:
– Supervise a team of investigators working on detailed investigations of key players and other global targets involved in copyright infringement, including the investigation of individuals, organizations, and technical infrastructures
– Assist in identifying cases suitable for escalated actions, civil and criminal
– Collaborate with MPA member studios, industry partners, law enforcement, vendors, attorneys, and various internal departments to work towards the resolution of cases
– Supervise the proactive identification of new potential targets. Monitor, analyze, and report on emerging trends and technologies in online piracy
For anyone interested in OSINT and/or piracy, the above sounds like exciting work. Of course, the MPA will know everything about most potential candidates before they’re invited for an interview, largely thanks to the trails almost everyone leaves behind.