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Blog - Written by Renai LeMay on Tuesday, October 4, 2011 9:47 - 21 Comments
AFACT exposed: Insider investigator tells his story
blog If you’ve always wondered what life is like at the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, wonder no more. A former investigator for Australia’s self-appointed online piracy watchdog has spilled the beans on his activities working for the organisation.
Some of our favourite sentences from the interview with private investigator Gavin Warren conducted by TorrentFreak relate to “Neil Gane, a former British Hong Kong Police Inspector who had been working in Malaysia with the MPAA against piracy”:
“Mr Gane gave the impression of being very committed to stopping the evil scourge of piracy and was far more media savvy than his predecessor … Gane understood that the media was an essential tool towards AFACT’s goal of getting tougher copyright legislation in place.”
Gane, of course, is still with AFACT as the group’s executive director.
Now at this stage, it’s pretty much impossible to verify much of what Warren has alleged here; I doubt AFACT would comment on much of the story, after all (although we’ve reached out to them for comment). So we should take all of this with a grain of salt. And of course, it has been my experience that if you dig into most large organisations you’ll find the occasional bit of dodgy behaviour going on.
However, if Warren’s testimony is accurate, then the story does paint a pretty disturbing picture of AFACT. From extrapolating busts into headline-grabbing piracy statistics, to courting the police and manipulating the media, I personally felt a little uncomfortable reading Warren’s account of the organisation. Is this the sort of organisation which should be negotiating with the Federal Government behind closed doors on the issue of online copyright infringement?
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).
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