Torrentfreak critical of IP grants for anti-piracy ventures

By | Published on Monday 8 April 2013


Torrentfreak has, unsurprisingly perhaps, criticised a recent UK government announcement that the Intellectual Property Office had made two grants totalling £196,000 to help fund, said the IPO, “two innovative technology projects will help tackle online piracy and target those who flout intellectual property laws”.

The money, granted as part of the Technology Strategy Board’s Small Business Research Initiative, will go to the University Of Sussex to help support the design of “a novel scheme for protecting digital media content”, and to a London company called whiteBULLET, which is developing a scheme like that previously proposed by collecting society PRS, to rate websites based on how well they respect IP rights.

Announcing the grants at the end of last month, the UK Minister For IP Lord Younger told reporters: “The infringement of IP rights is an increasing problem for all and stifles honest business. The borderless nature of the internet also sets new enforcement challenges as websites offer access to pirate copies of films, music and software, as well as a wide range of counterfeit goods. These projects provide creative solutions to technological problems and will assist growth in legitimate industries. I commend them on their work and look forward to seeing these projects in action”.

But in its report on the grants, Torrentfreak criticises both the Sussex University and whiteBULLET initiatives, claiming that the former is just another futile attempt at creating a user-friendly digital rights management system, and the latter a time-consuming exercise to create a database that will have no real purpose unless it is integrated by Google, and which – the site reckons – will be biased towards the rights industries, because it’s founders come from TV industry backgrounds.

Of course Torrentfreak, by design, is always suspicious of any efforts to help rights owners enforce their rights, and usually promotes the “piracy is here to stay so deal with it” philosophy. Though, while public information about both the IPO-funded projects is limited, neither seem particularly “innovative” at first glance, and that money could probably have been better spent on further education initiatives, copyrights always being much easier to protect if the majority are convinced they deserve protecting.