The Web Sheriff likes to appear to be different with its methods to stamping out Internet piracy. The Sheriff, aka John Giacobbi, first appears to employ a more considered approach by attempting to negotiate the removal of unauthorized content with the site owner, but in a friendly way.
The big, gold Web Sheriff badge is worn with pride on Giacobbi’s chest but with an almost comedic quality which may help to tip the balance with a site admin as he laughs at the situation, rather than panics. “We’re trying to be more civil,” Giacobbi told CNet last year. “We have good relationships with most of the file-sharing and blogging sites, and when we ask them to take down material, the vast majority of them respond straight away. In some cases, the sites give us access to their databases, and we remove content ourselves.”
One site that does respond to them right away is The Pirate Bay. You can read their hilarious exchanges here, but the real point is – when does a ‘civil approach’ turn into something else? Well, as it turns out, as soon as you refuse to comply.
“There is no way that they will have any defense because it’s blatant piracy” said Giacobbi, as he announced legal action against The PirateBay on behalf of the artist, Prince. “They’ll either have to come out and fight or just try and ignore it. In that case, we’re going to win a default judgment against them. This could be a ticking time bomb for them. They can’t outrun this. We are very confident.”
Essentially, “See you in court”. Back to business as usual for the anti-pirates, then.
Now, John Giacobbi, CEO of Web Sheriff has said in an interview with e24.se that he’s hired lawyer Lars Sandberg from Stockholm law firm SÃ¶dermark to work on the case in Sweden. “We are suing for damages of millions of dollars, and they will be filed at both Swedish as well as US courts.” he added.
Interesting is Giacobbi’s attempt to recruit Swedish (I think I can use the words) mega-group, ABBA, to become some type of positive, cleansing influence to counter the dark forces of The Pirate Bay. This is good versus evil on a scale never experienced before, or at least the chosen imagery implies as much.
“It would be also be good/appropriate if the members of ABBA could take up the fight against these pirates, as they personify the Swedish music industry’s successes and are renowned ambassadors for Sweden, contrary to The Pirate Bay.”
Then, as if dragging ABBA into this bloodbath wasn’t enough, to level things up against The Pirate Bay ‘Four’ – the Sheriff has recruited a police officer to fight them – and he’ll be bringing some friends: an American Indian chief, a cowboy, a construction worker, a man dressed head to toe in black leather and even a guy from the military. Oh boy.
Yes, the Web Sheriff is teaming up with Prince and style-icons The Village People to claim back damages for every one of their albums that have been made available via The Pirate Bay. The Village People want compensation for losses on their single ‘YMCA’ and Prince wants compensation for about 40 of his albums (including some Greatest Hits albums).
When faced with the quote from U2 manager Paul McGuinness who told the Financial Times that the industry should focus on ISPs instead of filesharers, Giacobbi said: “I totally agree. For years, we have said that web hosts, who earn millions and billions in hosting sites, must take responsibility and control these sites.”
When it was put to Giacobbi that public opinion on filesharing had changed and that generally people feel it should be legalized, he responded: “People ask themselves why they should buy something when they can get it for free. But then they aren’t taking into account that someone has created the music or the movie and has invested big money in it. It is also the producer that owns the rights themselves to decided how and to whom their creative work should be distributed.”
It didn’t do ABBA’s image any good when their label was accused of picking on fans in 2006, so you have to question why they would get involved when The Pirate Bay is so popular with music lovers, especially in Sweden.
If you line them all up – The Pirate Bay Four, The Web Sheriff, Prince, ABBA and The Village People, if nothing else, it’s certainly a memorable image.
But you knew that, didn’t you John ;)