Piracy crackdown heats up – how you could earn a £720,000 reward by snitching on websites


Industry group Software and Information Industry Association, or SIIA for short, has launched a new campaign to try to stamp out online piracy. In recent weeks, we’ve seen new rulings from the High Court that force BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Plusnet and Virgin Media to automatically block sites dedicated to free movie streaming as well as online apps designed to help users download music from YouTube videos. But it seems the SIIA believes that it will catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

To that end, the group has kickstarted a campaign designed to encourage people to snitch on websites that allow internet users to download paid-for software at no cost without permission from the rights holders. According to research from the SIIA, unauthorised copying of files has resulted in $8 billion in lost sales for software companies.

“Piracy is stealing. We need your help to combat this crime. If you see something, say something. Report issues of piracy here. SIIA advocates for the industry and protects intellectual property from theft,” the SIIA website reads.

But while reporting websites that allow users to download or share copyright-protected software at no cost might not be everyone’s cup of tea… the SIIA is offering a reward that most will find hard to refuse. Yes, those who snitch on pirate websites could be in-line for a $1 million windfall …or around £720,000 at the current exchange rate. As well as the extremely-generous reward, the SIIA is promising anonymity for anyone who reveals intimate details about piracy operations.

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“By reporting software piracy to SIIA you could earn up to $1,000,000,” the industry group pledges.

As always, the small-print makes clear that £720,000 isn’t being dished out to anyone who shares a dodgy torrent link, or anecdotes about LimeWire back in the day.

For one, the maximum jackpot only applies to situations where corporations are running pirated software. If you report that your employer to the SIIA and this claim is investigated and found to be accurate – the company could pay-out the maximum prize money. The scale of the settlement the company pays to the SIIA will determine the individual award that’s handed down to you.

So, if you’re working for a multinational firm that’s using pirated software to power its operation and there’s a substantial settlement out of court …you could easily find yourself with seven-figures in your current account. But if you’re working for an independent retailer, expect that windfall to be much, much smaller.

As the SIIA explains in the fine print: “If all the eligibility requirements are met and the settlement amount paid to SIIA is at least $10,000, the source will be considered for a reward of $500. SIIA may increase the reward to as much as $1,000,000 depending on the amount of piracy reported by the source and the settlement amount collected by SIIA.”

It’s worth noting that if the case goes to trial, the SIIA might not decide not to pay-out. Although the SIIA can still choose to “reimburse” the whistleblower for their time, that’s not guaranteed in the terms and conditions laid out on the website.

Still, piracy is a crime – and regardless of whether your bank account stands to benefit – it’s worth calling it out.



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