Sleeping With The Enemy: Working For The Pirate Hunters

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Even happily employed people give the 'positions vacant' columns an idle scan every now again. But what if a job unexpectedly came up that seemed tailored to your very skill set, involving work you could do standing on your head? If the pay and conditions were good, would you consider it? Maybe. But what if that meant 'sleeping with the enemy'? Could you become an MPAA file-sharing investigator?

As every decade passes it seems that the job market becomes ever more competitive. In these tough economic times a quick scan of the local papers reveals fewer column inches dedicated to those offering employment. This increasing scarcity is compounded by employers insisting that even the most mundane of jobs be filled with over-qualified people earning less than they’re worth. In these tough times it really is a buyer’s market.

But even for those of us lucky enough to have reasonably steady employment, the ‘positions vacant’ column can still make interesting reading, such as providing a barometer to ensure we’re still earning the right sort of money for the work we do now. In a head-in-the-clouds, lotto winning way, they can also provide the ‘what if’ lure of an unlikely dream job’s magical appearance.

This week a reader sent in a link to a very interesting job vacancy, quite well suited to one unnamed file-sharing writer’s skill set. This position would require the monitoring of wide range of “Internet technology cases including file sharing and distribution of illicit film and TV content”. Intriguing.

“You must have a detailed and current understanding of a range of online piracy and file sharing issues and technical aspects of online copyright,” it continued.

That’s the three-bar jackpot right there. OK, so I’m not so hot on a couple of other requirements in the description, but no one got to high places dwelling on negatives.

Where do I sign?

Not so fast. Taking this position would involve doing something radical, something extreme. It would mean (deep breath) – working for an anti-piracy company. Stay with me on this, the money might be good….

“Our client is a commercial organisation within the entertainment industry. They are currently recruiting online investigators to join their highly regarded and busy team dealing with online piracy, counterfeiting and copyright theft,” the ad begins.

The employer isn’t revealed in the ad but from reading it through I’m going to take an educated guess at FACT, the MPAA-funded Federation Against Copyright Theft.

They’re the people who destroyed Dave Rock and David Overton’s TV-Links site with accusations of criminal behavior, a case which ultimately crashed and burnt in the biggest way imaginable – with a landmark E-Commerce Directive ruling in favor of the defendants.

FACT took similar action against AradiTracker too, successfully twisting a civil issue into a police-led criminal investigation.

And let’s not forget what happened to FileSoup. FACT conjured up a spectacular story there too, levelling criminal accusations at the site’s admins and forcing an aggressive police investigation. Where did that case go? Absolutely nowhere.

But back to the vacancy. My advice to anyone applying for a job has always been this; don’t go to an interview to see if the company likes you, go there to see if the potential employer is worth your time. Is the company successful and good at what they do – can you build a career and get job satisfaction with them?

If this job vacancy is for FACT, considering the above cases you’d have to say from a legal perspective they have been a complete failure. Who’d want to work for them on that basis? But this ‘failure’ means little since FACT have achieved what they set out to do – close or materially damage the sites they have targeted.

Maybe FACT are offering good money to go work for them, who knows. Maybe, superficially, I do have the right kind of skills to transfer to their line of work. But could I play God with the lives of people like Dave Rock, who is one of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with online? With that of FileSoup’s Geeker, who despite the mess he found himself in has remained dignified throughout?

Could I convince police to storm into people’s houses when I know it’s unwarranted?

No, not for a very large sum of money indeed. Could you?


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