Wired on IP Infringement and Organized Crime

Wired runs a story about the connection between organized crime and IP infringement. The story questions how much these connections are real vs. industry hype/scare tactics to make the case for stronger enforcement tools.

The article notes that a few recent IP busts have gang or organized crime ties. The article also notes that Russian and Chinese organized crime groups play a large role in piracy in their respective countries.

However, otherwise, the article suggests that the connections are far more hype than substance. In particular, in the US, a significant percentage of criminal copyright busts are now warez traders, not commercial profiteers. In turn, by promulgating this linkage between infringement and mob families, there seems to be an effort (not clear if it’s coordinated among industry players) to try to portray warez trading groups as just another form of organized crime.

The problem is that this linkage is confusing at best. We typically think of mobs and gangs as in the crime business for money, but warez traders have no financial interest. Instead, they get in the scene to build a reputation and stroke their egos, and money is completely irrelevant to that scorecard.

So equating warez trading groups with criminal mobs or gangs masks critical differences in motivation and behavior. As a result, we should be suspicious of these types of PR efforts on the part of the copyright industries.