interview with a takedown man

ereads.com covers a guy who makes his living writing DMCA takedown requests:

Hank St. James is a piracy exterminator for hire. For a fee he monitors pirate sites and when he finds a client’s book on one he emails a takedown notice to the bad guys. “Sometimes this entails as many as nine emails to get one book taken down from one site,” he informs me. “They use some sites where they upload too and that site then re-ups to seven or eight other sites automatically.”

He claims a high success rate, about 98% getting links removed within 1-3 days. “I’ve cracked most of the larger ones,” he says.

Like anyone else in the law enforcement field, St. James’s job is fraught with danger. “I have been threatened by one clown in Holland connected with [an underground website] when we had a five day running battle to get one of my authors works removed from his site. I’ve picked up viruses from some sites which my software has caught. Fifteen of those viruses are in quarantine, however, as there apparently is no antidote for the strains that infected my computer. So, the virus software simply isolated the virus.”

Is Pirate Sinker cool and dispassionate? Hardly. “It is very frustrating, anger inducing work,” he says. “Recently, John Simpson had a new book come out and that same day it was on [another underground website] which kinda sent me into a blue rage. These shoplifting parasites have no shame.”

Observations:

His goal is not to sue, it’s to reduce infringement.

His approach isn’t automated. There’s a human actively making decisions, being persistent, putting emotion behind the work. This human-based approach can’t be cheap.

The cost to create an infringement is probably orders of magnitude less than what it costs to higher him. It’s a buck or two, or nothing, to upload the infringing content.

His job makes him about as popular as a repo man.