Record Companies Reportedly Hiring Students To Snitch On Their Peers

It seems recording companies would rather not do the dirty work of seeking out students pirating music, instead hiring other students to snitch on their peers over in Europe. The four big labels — EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner –Â are reportedly working on anti-piracy strategies with companies who will go to great lengths to take down students.

TorrentFreak cites insiders who say these organizations think of students as pirate hunters, and have been turning them against their fellow Internet users.

One such group is BVMI in Germany, which is affiliated with the International Federation of the Phonograhpic Industry and has the big four as members. BVMI has a contract with a group called proMedia, hiring it to hunt down copyright infringements on its behalf.

According to TorrentFreak:

The operations of these anti-piracy companies are usually shrouded in secrecy, but on condition of anonymity an insider has been speaking out about his work hunting pirates at proMedia. The individual, referred to only as ‘Peter’, told SpiegelOnline that he has worked for the company for four years, tracking down copyright infringements on behalf of the big labels.

Peter, a musician and student teacher, works in proMedia’s Hamburg office, but he is not alone. According to the 26-year-old, proMedia employs a total of 35 students in a range of anti-piracy roles.

Peter and his pals use Google to search forums and blogs for any potential infringements, and track down file-sharers on peer-to-peer networks to get them to give up cash settlements.

We can’t see this going over well here if the U.S. and the Recording Industry Association of America follow suit.

Big Four Music Labels Hire Students To Chase File-Sharers [TorrentFreak]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Coffee says:

    Doe their employment benefits come with free stitches?

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Ahh, “snitches get stitches.” Protecting gang members and the mafia for decades as they rape and murder their way through every major city. Because there’s nothing quite as awesome as beating people half to death or removing their limbs with a circular saw because they told the police that you murdered that family of four last year.

      No, the problem is not that they’re reporting people. The problem is that they’re being paid for it.

  2. Lyn Torden says:

    I no longer pay for the music I download. And I have downloaded about 5GB worth in the past two months. Take that RIAA!

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      I think they’re more interested in your sources. It reads like they want file SHARERS the most.

      • Lyn Torden says:

        They probably do prefer to those that share the music. But I don’t do my sharing via Torrents. And my limited sharing is also completely legal.

    • GoodBytes says:

      REPORTED! Now for my 5$…. I am sooo rich! Imagine how many candy bars I can buy!

      • Lyn Torden says:

        So who did you report it to? What content did you tell them I downloaded? The content rights holder of the music I do download? I bet you don’t even know who it is.

        • Traveller says:

          I think someone missed the sarcasm.

          • Lyn Torden says:

            Indeed. My post was very cleverly worded to let them easily make the assumptions they did based on their overwhelming belief that all downloading has to be illegal or something.

            I bought a lifetime membership at Magnatune.Com. I can now download any DRM-free music they offer without any further cost. I can also play the music streaming online on any of my devices. I am even allowed to share the music with two other people (it often attracts new subscribers).

            Magnatune doesn’t have the popular media promoted music from the big record labels that pay artists less than 10%. But I couldn’t care for that junk “manufactured” music, anyway. The choices might be smaller on Magnatune, but the quality is better. I can only listen to music for so many hours a day (12 maybe at most). And the selection is good for that. And they get several new selections each month or week.

            My latest download was Beethoven’s nine symphonies.

            • Coffee says:

              Randal: What?
              Customer: Are either of these any good?
              Randal: I don’t watch movies.
              Customer: Well, have you heard anything about either of them?
              Randal: No.
              Customer: You’ve never heard anybody say anything about either movie?
              Randal: I find it’s best to stay out of other people’s affairs.
              [The customer turns around, then turns back with the same two movies]
              Customer: Well, how about these two movies?
              [Randal still never looks up.]
              Randal: They suck!
              Customer: I just held up the same two movies. You’re not even paying attention.
              Randal: No, I wasn’t.
              Customer: I don’t think your manager would appreciate…
              Randal: I don’t appreciate your ruse, ma’am.
              Customer: I beg your pardon?
              Randal: Your ruse. Your cunning attempt to trick me.
              Customer: I only pointed out that you weren’t paying any attention to what I was saying.
              Randal: I hope it feels good.
              Customer: You hope what feels good?
              Randal: I hope it feels so good to be right. There is nothing more exhilarating than pointing out the shortcomings of others, is there?
              Customer: Well this is the last time I ever rent here…
              Randal: You’ll be missed.
              Customer: Screw you!
              [The customer storms out. Randal runs out into the street.]
              Randal: Hey you’re not allowed to rent here anymore!
              Jay: Yeah!

    • Concat says:

      Damages for that much music is pretty much the equivalent to the GDP of New Zealand according to the RIAA.

      • Lyn Torden says:

        What damages? I didn’t do anything illegal.

        • Jawaka says:

          Personally I don’t care if you download stuff illegally or not. My pet peeve is when people flaunt it or try to defend it as if they really aren’t doing anything wrong.

        • Jawaka says:

          Personally I don’t care if you download stuff illegally or not. My pet peeve is when people flaunt it or try to defend it as if they really aren’t doing anything wrong.

      • cyberpenguin says:

        Actually, it was five times the GDP of the Earth they were claiming.

    • frank64 says:

      Are you concerned that they will identify you and charge you?

      They say all they have to do is go to the torrent sites and get the IP address of all those downloading. Then they go to the internet provider and get the name. I wonder if that is their strategy, why they are not doing it to everyone? It seems that most downloaders aren’t concerned.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      In summary, I download from what is effectively a record label called Magnatune.Com. Unlike the industry norm of paying artists 8.25%, Magnatune pays their artists 50%. The downloads and streams are DRM-free. Limited sharing is allowed. There is a monthly subscription memberships, or like me, you can pony up for a lifetime membership. You can also browse around and sample all the music before buying, so you can choose to not join if their music choices are not what you like.

  3. Blueskylaw says:

    This sounds like the same tactics used by Nazi Germany when people who “told” on
    their neighbors were rewarded by getting part of their neighbors property and estate.

    • sagodjur says:

      First they came for the bootleggers,
      and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a bootlegger.

      Then they came for the programmers,
      and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a programmer.

      Then they came for the file-sharers,
      and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a file-sharer.

      Then they came for my paycheck with collusion-caused fixed prices
      and there was no one left to compete with cheaper prices.

    • Jawaka says:

      Being a Jew isn’t a crime. Stealing music is. That’s kind of a significant difference.

      • sagodjur says:

        No, but marrying a Jew if you were a member of the so-called Aryan “race” was a crime.

        And like the Nuremberg Laws, not all laws are ethical or right. The opposite is also true. Not everything that is illegal is ethically wrong.

        Also, a copyright violation is not stealing, by definition, both linguistically and legally.

    • OSAM says:



      Godwin’s Law, only 3 (count ’em, THREE) threads in.

      Congratulations good sir, I commend thee.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      @Blueskylaw; I swear I was thinking the exact same thing. The Nazi’s/SS Guards would perpetuate this very idea and pitted neighbors against neighbor’s. What’s very strange is that a lot of the older generation in France, Germany, Italy, Poland are still very wary of each other to this very day.

      EMI, Sony, Universal and Warner better look at other methods because in the long run this could really burn them.

  4. frank64 says:

    “Of course, the entire system is widely hated by just about everyone not making money from it, largely because of what is perceived as a bullying and disproportionate response to individuals downloading a few songs. But Peter insists that this is still theft and comparable to shoplifting.

    “The only difference is that songs are apparently not perceived by many as a valuable commodity and everyone generally thinks they should be freely accessible,” he says.”

    Peter compares it to shoplifting, which I see, but if you get caught shoplifting $50 of merchandise, the full extent of the law means you pay you pay around $250, if you download the same amount of music you pay what, $500,000????

    They should only be able to charge say 5 times the value.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      There’s also potential jail time for repeat shoplifting, or even the first offense in some cases if you have a history of other crimes. Maybe repeat downloading of content illegally should have the same impact? Otherwise I do agree, 5x is more appropriate for downloading someone else’s content. Sharing it to 100’s of others, though, could be a lot more.

      • Conformist138 says:

        That’s what I don’t get–charging someone for downloading the music seems silly but understandable and despite the digital nature, I understand the shoplifting comparison. I even am fine with it being illegal to publicly allow people to copy libraries (like not allowing public showings of protected filmes). BUT, when the fines are weighted by the number of people who take the bait, then effectively someone is being charged based on crimes they didn’t have any control of once the files hit the net.

        Point being, illegal to download (fine), illegal to host and/or make available for copying and distribution (fine), but increasing the judgement based on HOW MANY people downloaded it? Not fine. At that point it’s someone else committing a crime in the circle of life of online piracy. Go after that person. If it’s not worth persuing each person based on ONE charge per song, then the RIAA will have learned why people usually don’t launch stupidly huge court cases against people who ‘steal’ $20 worth of anything.

      • loggg says:

        If everyone in a network is equally able and required to share, as BitTorrent tries to do, this notion that you can share with 100s of others is wrong. If the network is perfect and no one ever redownloads because they deleted or lost a file, then the most downloads of a file that can happen before everyone has a copy is 1 per person. That’s 1, not 100s. You run out of people who do not yet have a copy.

        It’s the same reasons why Ponzi schemes do not work. You soon run out of people who can be added to the scheme, and it collapses.

  5. frank64 says:

    This is posing from them is more appropriate for us. It says Comcast is fighting the providers seeking the names of the internet addresses.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      If the RIAA and its members had actually fully investigated each case they have sued on, and not ended up suing people who didn’t download anything, and sought reasonable recovery of actual loses (including lawyer fees), then they might not have made so many enemies, like me. Although I am fully opposed to copyright theft, I am also now fully opposed to the RIAA as well as the MPAA, mostly because they have had years to get a clue, and have not. So YAY for Comcast in this.

  6. Warren - aka The Piddler on the Roof says:
  7. galm666 says:

    In short, if you’re a student and one of your friends admits to being one of these spies, you should feel free to jack them in the mouth for being a jerk.

    And for being the sort of person who’d sell out anyone for any amount of money.

  8. ferozadh says:

    I’m guessing once the snitches get found out, retribution would come harshly and swiftly. Thus is the digital battleground of our times.

  9. axiomatic says:

    Eventually this payment from the RIAA is going to get someones ass kicked and then the RIAA is going to have a lawsuit on their hands.

  10. madanthony says:

    The article title and picture is kind of misleading – from the sounds of the actual source article, a company is paying people, who happen to be students, to surf the web looking for pirated material. They aren’t getting paid to snitch on their friends, they are getting paid to find pirated material online. And the guy cited is 26, not a precocious kid like the randomly selected flickr pool pic.

    This isn’t exactly shocking news – obviously if record labels are suing people or issuing takedown notices, they have employees trolling the web to find that material, and students are an ideal group to have do that, since they are web-savvy and because it’s the kind of thing that can be done in their spare time.

    • HomerSimpson says:

      Said “students” had better be adept at extricating themselves from their lockers

  11. dush says:

    Why don’t they just make music that no one wants to pirate? Problem solved.

  12. smo0 says:

    There’s going to be a lot of school fights.

  13. Important Business Man (Formerly Will Print T-shirts For Food) says:

    Snitches and talkers get stitches and walkers….

  14. MrEvil says:

    Nobody likes a snitch.

    You know who also was a snitch? Judas. Do you know what happened to Judas? If you read Dante’s Inferno you would.