So You Want To Be An Internet Piracy Investigator?

Opinion

The Federation Against Copyright Theft, one of the UK's most prominent anti-piracy groups, is looking to expand its team by recruiting a new Internet Investigator. The job listing provides an interesting insight into what qualities the group is looking for but doesn't mention a salary. It better be good though, as the list of requirements is lengthy.

While the authorities would like to paint a picture of Internet pirates as thoughtless thieves only interested in the theft of intellectual property, the truth is more nuanced.

Like every other online and indeed offline location, pirate sites are filled with people from all corners of society, from rich to poor, and from the basically educated to the borderline genius.

What is especially interesting is the extremely thin line between poacher and gamekeeper, between those who want to exploit intellectual property and those who want to protect it. Indeed, it is far from uncommon to find former pirates and renegade coders “going straight” by working for their former enemies.

While a repellent thought to some, it makes perfect sense. Anyone who knows the piracy scene back to front could be a valuable asset to the other side, under the right circumstances. But what does it really take to be an anti-piracy investigator?

As it happens, the UK’s Federation Against Copyright Theft is currently trying to fill exactly such a position. The job of “Internet Investigator” is based in the UK and the successful applicant will report to a manager. While that tends to suggest a lower pay grade, FACT are insistent that applicants meet stringent criteria.

“Working as a proactive member of the investigatory team to support the strategic objectives of FACT. Responsible for the detection, investigation, and protection of clients Intellectual Property whether physical or digital as directed by the Investigations Manager,” the listing reads.

More specifically, FACT is looking for someone with a “strong aptitude for investigation” who is capable of working under minimal supervision. The candidate is also required to have a proven record of liaising with “industry and enforcement organizations”, presumably including entertainment companies and the police.

At this point, things get pretty interesting. FACT says that the job involves assessing and investigating “individuals and entities” responsible for “illegal or infringing activity related to Intellectual Property.” Think torrent, streaming and IPTV site operators and staff, release group members, ‘Kodi Box’ sellers, infringing addon developers, even people flogging dodgy DVDs down the market.

When these investigations are being carried out, FACT expects evidence and intelligence to be gathered “ethically and in accordance with criminal procedure rules”, presumably so that cases don’t collapse when they end up in court. Which they often do.

Also of interest is how closely FACT appears to align its practices with those of the police. While the candidate is expected to liaise with law enforcement, they will also be expected to take part in briefings, seizure of evidence and prosecution support, all while “managing risks” and acting in accordance with UK legislation.

Another aspect of the job is a little cryptic, in that it requires the candidate to “locate offenders” and then undertake action “with an alternative approach to a proportionate solution.” That’s open to interpretation but it sounds very much like the home visits FACT has been known to make to site operators, who are asked to cease and desist while handing over their domains.

Unsurprisingly, FACT are looking for someone with a computer science degree or similar, and good organizational skills. Above that, it’s fairly obvious they’re seeking someone with a legal background, perhaps a law graduate or even a former police officer.

In addition to familiarity with the rules laid down in the Management of Police Information (MOPI) 2010, the candidate will be required to attend court hearings to give evidence. They’ll also need to conduct “intrusive surveillance” in accordance with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) and have knowledge of:

– European Convention on Human Rights Act 2000
– Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
– Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000
– Data Protection Act 1998
– Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
– Fraud Act 2006
– Serious Crime Act 2007
– Copyright Designs & Patents Act 1988 and Trade Marks Act 1994
– Computer Misuse Act 1990
– Other applicable legislation

The window to apply has almost run out but given the laundry list of qualities above, it seems unlikely that FACT will be swamped with perfectly suitable candidates right off the bat.

Finally, it’s probably worth mentioning that former torrent site operators and release group members keen to branch out are not specifically mentioned as primary candidates, so the poacher-turned-gamekeeper applicant might want to keep that part under their hat, at least until later.

Otherwise, FACT might just slap the cuffs on there and then, in line with UK legislation and procedure, of course.

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