Space Ramblings

CNet Gives Web Sheriff a Tongue Bath

In the wake of reporting on the embarrassing fallout from the Media Defender leak, CNet, that bastion of tech non-journalism practiced at such an amateurish level that it would even embarrass Matt Drudge unaccountably decided to use the occasion of Media Defender’s humiliation to promote Web Sheriff.

Now Web Sheriff is hardly one of the web’s villains but it is more of a running joke and it’s one that’s pretty hard to take seriously, mainly because all Web Sheriff does or can really do is send out warning letters, many of which are easy enough to laugh off.

But John Giacobbi, president of Web Sheriff, a British company that has worked to protect the music of such artists as Moby, The White Stripes and The Shins, said not everyone in the sector takes such a hard-line approach to file sharing.

“We’re trying to be more civil,” Giacobbi said. “We have good relationships with most of the file-sharing and blogging sites, and when we ask them to take down material, the vast majority of them respond straight away. In some cases, the sites give us access to their databases, and we remove content ourselves.”

All told any file sharing site that routinely handles illegal material is going to ignore Web Sheriff. Those that are legit may pay attention to the notice but I doubt any site being operated by someone with a fourth grade education is going to give Web Sheriff access to their databases for crying out loud.

Giacobbi acknowledges that all of his approaches have so far failed to convince the operators of The Pirate Bay to work with his company. He said he reserves a special dislike for that site.

“We have civilized relationships with everyone except The Pirate Bay,” Giacobbi said. “It’s estimated that they make about $75,000 a month from advertising. How come they are allowed to make money from copyright content, but the record labels can’t? Well, they are going to face the music soon. They’ll be taken down eventually.”

I’d point out that Giacobbi makes money from copyright content violation but that’s obviously another story. He does have a point. The Pirate Bay is very much about creating a brand and then cashing in on it, exploiting the file sharing culture to create an identification with the brand.

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