Former 'Anti-Piracy Investigator' Explains How He Fed Police Cases, Inflated 'Piracy' Stats

from the but-of-course dept

None of this will come as much of a surprise, but a former “anti-piracy” private investigator who worked for the MPAA’s anti-piracy shell operation in Australia, AFACT, has explained to Torrentfreak how he helped inflate “piracy” numbers, was used to imply a non-existent link between infringement and drug trafficking, and how he basically handed police targets for raids. The guy was focused on physical counterfeiting of movies, and actually lost his job as the MPAA/AFACT started focusing more on online, rather than physical. But, still there are some tidbits that highlight pretty much how the MPAA twists things:

“He was adamant that we needed to boost our statistics to make the media sit up and take notice and that the large numbers would make it easier to get the local Police interested. This was especially difficult to do as local police had no jurisdiction over copyright infringing product and the AFP were desperately short on manpower. We were encouraged to find links to drugs and stolen goods wherever possible.”

“We discussed the formula for extrapolating the potential street value earnings of ‘laboratories’ and we were instructed to count all blank discs in our seizure figures as they were potential product. Mr Gane also explained that the increased loss approximation figures were derived from all forms of impacts on decreasing cinema patronage right through to the farmer who grows the corn for popping.”


“Funded solely by MPAA, AFACT lobbies hard for changes to Australian law and enhance the sexiness of their case by making vague references to links to terrorism. Sometimes not so vague. I was instructed to tell police officers that the profit margins were greater than dealing heroin. It was bizarre. A twisted logic that AFACT spewed out with monotonous regularity,” Warren says.

One of the examples Warren gives is that they assumed that all burners and DVD replicators would run 24/7, making these operations appear very lucrative.

“Each burner cranking out ten discs an hour, multiplied by ten dollars per disc is potentially a hundred dollars an hour, multiplied by number of burners by hours in a year gives a yearly potential?. Very pumped up statistics.”

There’s a lot more in the story — none of which is particularly surprising, but just interesting to see someone who was there come out and admit what most people knew already.

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Companies: afact, mpaa

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Comments on “Former 'Anti-Piracy Investigator' Explains How He Fed Police Cases, Inflated 'Piracy' Stats”

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rorybaust (profile) says:

statement from AFACT, attributable to executive director Neil Gane:

Update: Delimiter has received the following statement from AFACT, attributable to executive director Neil Gane:

AFACT rejects the claims made by Mr Warren who worked for AFACT as a sub contracted Private Investigator for three and a half years and who only makes these allegations after his services were no longer required. Independent and globally recognised researchers IPSOS & Oxford Economics have calculated the loss to the Australian movie industry as a result of movie theft. They are the ones qualified to gather statistics and to comment on their robustness ? not disgruntled former employees.

The IPSOS & Oxford Economics report entitled ?Economic Consequences of Movie Piracy? can be found here (PDF).

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: statement from AFACT, attributable to executive director Neil Gane:

Funny AFACT has pulled that report from their website where it was when it was released.
Direct link

“The approach for measuring direct consumer
spending losses to the movie industry is based on
the analysis of results from a nationally representative
telephone survey of 3,500 adults aged 18 and over
conducted by Ipsos in July to August 2010. Further
details are provided in Annex 2.”

One of their factors in arriving at the number was

“and secondary (borrowing or viewing pirated copies).”

So borrowing a movie from someone is the same as piracy.

Oh hey look, we created spinnable information, look at the pretty pretty report and not the guy on the ground we PAID to mislead the authorities.

So they called 3,500 people who were willing to sit on the phone with random telemarketer asking questions and wanting you to admit your a pirate… yes this can have no flaws at all.

“The survey results show that a third of the adult
population of Australia has participated in movie
piracy in the 12 months up to Q3 2010 ? with an
estimated volume of pirated movies viewed or
obtained at 92m in this period.
The survey also shows that just under half of all
pirate consumers would have paid for an authorised
version of the movie had they not been able to

Funny that word estimated…

I believe the guy who worked for them and says he said X, rather than the guy trying to do damage control by pointing to a report with “estimates” of a sample of people.

Source: World Bank, World Development Indicators
21,874,900 – 2009
Australian population.

So 0.016000073143191514% of the total population of the country can set the indicators for everything.

Hark a flaw…

We are making laws based on the findings of less than 1% of the population?

Everyone say it with me…
This report is BULLSHIT.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: statement from AFACT, attributable to executive director Neil Gane:

From the press release in January… Google cache… so useful…

On 31 January 2011 a report by Internet Intelligence company Envisional concluded that nearly a quarter (23.76%) of all Internet traffic involves digital theft of copyrighted material, with the open source file sharing application BitTorrent accounting for nearly half (11.4%) of the infringing content.

But now in September they report that “STUDY FINDS 97.2% OF BITTORRENT FILES ARE INFRINGING”

Whats 97.2% of 11.4%?
Whats a smokescreen.
Whats a lie.

The key findings of the report are:
? 97.2% of the most popular ?real? torrents [ie.not faked files] are copyright infringing
? Approximately 60% of popular torrents are movie based content
? 50% of popular torrents appear to be faked files, either malware or incorrect files
? 97.9% of BitTorrent use in ICSL samples is nefarious in nature, either faked files
copyright infringing or criminally infringing

So we count malware too… because well our people have no idea how to pick files. We thought for sure the file ending in .exe would be a movie. *blink blink blink*

Such high standards for these reports…

On 30 August 2010, the Intellectual Property Awareness Foundation released research through Sycamore Research & Marketing that revealed that 53% of Australians said that they had participated in some form of movie (or television) theft.

So there were 10 millionish downloads?! Surely you jest that half of everyone in AU with an internet connection is an evil pirate.

In July 2010, research conducted by Ballarat University?s Internet Commerce Security Laboratory (ICSL) found that at least 89.9% of all BitTorrent files shared were infringing.

This number keeps changing… why…

source for last 2 –

So my survey quickly conducted in my head shows that 99.9% of political leaders have no one on their staff checking facts when there is a “donation” to be gotten from a large interest who wants to screw other people instead of have to compete in the marketplace.

Hothmonster says:

Re: Re: Re: statement from AFACT, attributable to executive director Neil Gane:

So he has evidence that obviously uses faulty methods and concepts to arrive at the data it wants, and is even inconsistent in its own fake data. You on the other hand have no evidence. Therefore I am gonna believe the liar with a study.

If you can’t see that logic hole you are beyond help.

Also ^^

Or if you can actually handle it:

out_of_the_blue says:

READ ALL. Your star witness says: "It was a good system..."

‘ ?Police on the other hand would sometimes find large quantities of copyright infringing material whilst executing warrants, eg: drug warrant executions would invariably turn up some dodgy DVDs and I would get a call to come and identify the product and prepare a brief of evidence for prosecution.?

?It was a matter of educating the police officers what to look for. In this vein, I would regularly deliver half day seminars to police on their training days. It was a good system and had the effect of increasing their prosecutions and my investigations statistics. Collaboration had such a dark overtone. Cooperation is my preferred term,? Warren says.

Like many other private investigators Warren is a former police detective. And although the statistics may have been pumped a little, Warren was always careful to act within the boundaries of the law when it comes to his investigative work.” ‘

At least read the last sentence I quote: “a little”.

Obviously, because you disagree with the goal of suppressing piracy, you try to paint the means as illegal. Phooey.

MrWilson says:

Re: READ ALL. Your star witness says: "It was a good system..."

I don’t see why it matters that the guy thought it was a good system. If he admits to inflating numbers and making up bogus links between “piracy” and drug trafficking as an incentive to get cops to bust people, why does his opinion of the program matter? At most, it just shows he had no conscience about doing the wrong thing because it was his job and he was being paid to do it.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Oh the humanity….
sorry this is entertaining the crap out of me.

There is ANOTHER Economic Consequences of Movie Piracy report.
This one is for CMPDA for the stats for Canada.
Amazingly both reports are 10 pages long.
Have pretty much the same content.
All of the images are the same, only the content has been slightly tweaked to make them look valid…

One uses the popular rugby teams for a money comparison, the other uses Cirque du Soleil.

Oh again a less than 4000 person sample.

F*ucking really… this is the crap they hand to political leaders and it is accepted as fact??!
I’m the holder of a high school diploma and even I can see a HUGE problem with estimating things like this from tiny samples.

But what do I know, I am an evil freetard pirate afterall.

Anonymous Coward says:

The entertainment industry is just disgusting, they inflate the numbers and when they get some new legislation they show normal numbers and say it was because of the new laws, then they start all over again inflating those numbers and claims that they need more legislation to combat piracy.

That is why, I feel so good about when I rip a Bluray or DVD.

The the labels can die, the studios can die, the publishers can die.

I’m not paying a dime to them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Do be fair Mike, the story reads more like sour grapes from a guy who lost his job. What does he do? He just parrots back to the “other side” all the horror stories that they have been making up for years, and “confirms” them.

Do you have a slightly more credible source, say like a drunk on a street corner or perhaps an torrent site owner you can consult?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Do be fair Mike, the story reads more like sour grapes from a guy who lost his job. What does he do? He just parrots back to the “other side” all the horror stories that they have been making up for years, and “confirms” them.

Do you have a slightly more credible source, say like a drunk on a street corner or perhaps an torrent site owner you can consult?

+1 funny. Or he could just quote himself.

btrussell (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

We could do our own phone survey.

Caller: Hello! Did you know that a single copywrong infringement could result in a $150 000 fine?

Now then, have you ever borrowed or lent a movie?

Responder: No, never.

Repeat 10 000 times.

I am sure we could show that no one in Australia, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, has ever infringed.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

But the GAO can debunk all of the similar studies done in the US and show that there is a deliberate campaign to lie and mislead. While the media corps love to trot out these reports and get them media coverage they are unwilling to have the evidence reviewed or even back up their methodology.

The press keeps getting bit by this sort of thing…
Room Temp Cold Fusion, Arsenic based life, Vaccines cause Autism, Sadam had WMD, The Government is our Friend, etc.
Because they refuse to even look past the soundbite worthy portions of the study. I looked, and I do believe if they said this report is based on less than a 1% of the population sample people would have wondered why they made the report.
1% of the people in America could be bigamists, using their math I can extrapolate that we have a HUGE bigamist problem in our country… all from that tiny little sample.

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