Please stop your whining about the Warner Bros. anti-piracy internship

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Please stop your whining about the Warner Bros. anti-piracy internship

Tue Mar 30, 2010 @ 10:20AM PST

By Matthew Belloni

Warner-bros Back in college, a friend of ours scored a coveted summer internship in creative development at Universal Pictures. Sure, his knowledge of film was based mostly on the John Hughes comedies and Jean-Claude Van Damme ass-kickings we rented in the dorms. And, as a freshman, he was even younger than the usual juniors and seniors who made up the studios' internship programs.

But Universal wanted him anyways. In fact, they hired him precisely because he had no idea how Hollywood actually worked. He did know exactly what movies he liked and why, so his "expertise" probably helped the 30- and 40-something execs figure out how to make more movies that appealed to kids his age. 

That strategy came to mind when we read that the UK arm of Warner Bros. is looking to hire interns to help its anti-piracy effort.

The studio has already been lambasted in the blogosphere for hiring "narcs" and "traitors," but it makes perfect sense to us. While studies show that online piracy is not exclusive to one demographic, the young and tech-savvy have long been the captains of the pirate ship. Kids in college have grown up with illegal file sharing as an easy option for getting the music and movies they want. Why not target some of the consumers who make up both your most engaged audience and the group most likely to turn to piracy, and then offer to pay them ($26,000, according to reports) to play for your team?  

Here's the job description:  

  • During the 12 month internship, duties will include: monitoring local Internet forums and IRC for pirated WB and NBCU content in order to gather information on pirate sites, pirate groups and other pirate activities; finding new and maintaining existing accounts on private sites; scanning for links to hosted pirated WB and NBCU content and using tools to issue takedown requests; maintaining and developing bots for Internet link scanning system (training provided); preparing sending of infringement notices and logging feedback; performing trap purchases of pirated product and logging results; inputting pirate hard goods data and other intelligence into the forensics database; selecting local keywords and submitting local file names for monitoring and countermeasure campaigns and periodically producing research documents on piracy related technological developments. Various training will be provided.

Maybe we're the kind of people who spent our college years watching videos in the dorms, but that description sounds pretty interesting. Exciting, even. "Trap purchases" and "countermeasure campaigns" could border on Jack Bauer territory, or at least a copyright lawyer's version of CTU. Regardless, educating and involving potential pirates in the antipiracy effort seems like a smart move.  And, like Universal with our college pal, Warners might learn from their interns the kinds of strategies that will be effective in countering potential university-age pirates. 

Plus, it's not all bad for the torrent sites. If the internship doesn't work out, of course, we can't imagine anyone more valuable to a pirate hub than a fresh-faced tech savant who just spent a year behind enemy lines.

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to

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