Top FBI Official Now Heads the World’s Leading Anti-Piracy Coalition

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The Motion Picture Association has a new Global Chief of Content Protection, who will lead the ACE anti-piracy coalition. Larissa Knapp joins the MPA after 27 years with the FBI, where she was one of the highest-ranking officials. Instead of leading thousands of agents, Knapp will now front the global fight against piracy.

lisa knappIn the summer of 2017, several of the world’s largest entertainment industry companies teamed up to create a brand new anti-piracy coalition.

The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) aimed to foster collaboration, share knowledge, and leverage the group’s combined anti-piracy resources to tackle the global online piracy problem.

With dozens of members around the world, including Disney, Netflix, the BBC, beIN, Sony, and others, it lived up to expectations. While piracy has yet to be eradicated, the MPA-led group has claimed several major achievements around the globe.

This success is partly the result of planned resource sharing. As the coalition grew, collaborations expanded from the private to the public sector, forging bonds with governments and law enforcement agencies.

Much of this progress was made under former ACE head Jan Van Voorn, who recently left ACE for a new opportunity. With van Voorn’s departure, valuable experience walked out of the door, but his replacement is certainly capable of filling those shoes.

ACE has a new Boss

Earlier this week, the MPA revealed Larissa Knapp as its new Global Chief of Content Protection and the new head of the ACE coalition. Knapp is a law enforcement veteran who before taking on this new opportunity served as the fourth highest-ranking FBI official.

Knapp is therefore ideally positioned to expand ACE’s international contacts, particularly when it comes to collaborating with law enforcement offices around the globe.

“Her leadership will focus on deepening and broadening ACE’s partnerships with law enforcement agencies around the world, expanding its membership base, and growing ACE’s operational footprint in key markets to support the protection of creators and consumers,” MPA said, commenting on the appointment.

Knapp certainly brings plenty of experience to the table. At the FBI, she handled large-scale criminal investigations, leading teams of thousands of investigators. This included many intellectual property and cybersecurity cases.

FBI Lessons

Speaking with TorrentFreak, Knapp recalls that she handled one of the first federally prosecuted trade secret theft cases in her early career at the FBI. The investigation revolved around a contract employee who stole a billion-dollar proposal from a competitor.

The defendant was caught and sentenced after a private citizen reported them to the authorities. However, because this person sold the trade secrets for a small price, the punishment was rather low.

While this wasn’t a piracy case, the matter underscored the value of proper content protection. This is even more important in the present day and age, where most information is digital, and easier to transfer than ever before.

“For me, the case underscored the fragility of intellectual property and how companies must guard against theft – this multi-billion-dollar document was left in a conference room and taken by an individual who did not have the access or clearance to see such sensitive information,” Knapp tells us.

“It demonstrated the critical nature of partnerships and trust, specifically the willingness of the good corporate citizen to come forward and the victim company understanding what law enforcement would and would not do,” she adds. 

Private & Public Sector Cooperation

Rightsholders, including many ACE members, would ideally like to see the authorities, including the FBI, launch more piracy investigations. This isn’t always possible, as resources are limited, which is one of the reasons why ACE exists today.

The coalition often collaborates with official law enforcement authorities and will continue to do so in future. In addition to going after pirate sites and services directly, it can also assist criminal prosecutions. These partnerships are valuable and key to booking progress, Knapp believes.

“I look forward to working with the IPR Center and the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA) in my new capacity to align strategies in the fight against piracy. Content piracy is a global crime, and we need a worldwide coalition with complementary areas of expertise to fight it,” Knapp says.

“Thanks to ACE’s worldwide footprint, we work closely with major enforcement agencies such as Interpol, Europol, the FBI and others. The synergies created by working closely with these partners are what make ACE effective in stopping piracy rings and bringing criminal operators to justice. It’s truly a collaborative effort.”

At the FBI, Knapp collaborated with the MPA and RIAA, and now she will approach the piracy challenge from another direction. The contacts and experience she has, will help to book future successes.

For example, Knapp mentions that she worked closely together with banking cooperations in the recent past. This experience will benefit future anti-piracy efforts, where it’s often key to trace the money flows of piracy operations.

No Borders

ACE’s new head is impressed with the progress the coalition has made in just seven years, and she plans to utilize her FBI expertise to take anti-piracy enforcement efforts to the next level.

This will involve global cooperation, since pirate sites don’t stop at borders. That’s a tough challenge, but Knapp is convinced that her experience will help to bring more pirates to justice.

“ACE works across multiple jurisdictions, each with their own set of laws, which adds a layer of complexity. There are multiple parallels between these scenarios and many of the cases my teams worked on at the FBI, and from experience I know which strategic approaches are most effective.

“I plan on applying similar strategies to address key issues such as live sports piracy with the goal of seeing more piracy operators face justice.

“Just last week, five operators were convicted in the Jetflicks case, and I’m confident we’ll see more victories like this going forward,” Knapp concludes.


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