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Anti-Piracy Service Attributor Has Been Sold

Ask anyone in digital publishing and they’ll tell you that fighting piracy is a growth business.

Whether you’re conning the US government into illegally closing down legit blogs, finding new ways to attach DRM to a file, or looking for a way to punish customers, there’s always money to be made for one tech company or another.

That’s why I’m not surprised today to learn that Attributor, a widely known anti-piracy service, has been snapped up by Digimarc.

Digimarc is a a Portland, Oregon, based company which I haven’t mentioned before on this blog before. They are known in some tech circles for their digital watermarks for audio and images, as well as an extensive number of patents on related DRM concepts.

I was chatting with a friend a few minutes ago, and he found this deal to be rather interesting due to the different business models pursued by the companies. I’m told that Digimarc had at one time planned to offer anti-piracy services similar to that of Attributor, but that fell by the wayside as their licensing business grew. Attributor, on the other hand, is largely a services company.

The several times I have encountered their name was in relation to DMCA takedown notices. Attributor runs what I describe as a hunter-killer service. They search the web for copyrighted content which belongs to their customers. When they find it, some underpaid tech in a third-world country sends out a formulaic DMCA takedown notice.

I’ve had immediate experience with Attributor, though I would prefer to not be specific as to the site in question. I’m not whether Attributor is overly enthusiastic or merely sloppy, but I do know that all of the notices which I have seen involved files which were legitimately out of copyright in one or more countries and included titles which can be found at one or another of the Project Gutenberg websites.

In any case, Attributor’s services are quite popular. Current customers include Open Road Media, Simon & Schuster, Kensington Publishing, Grupo Planeta (a Spanish publisher), and many others. According to BitSnoop, they are one of the largest sender of notices (right behind Nate Glass and RIAA).

press release


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The Rodent December 4, 2012 um 6:30 pm

And, speaking of such anti-pricacy efforts…

Nate Hoffelder December 4, 2012 um 7:00 pm

Did you notice that the same guy owns both?

Sleazy, isn’t it?

BEA 2015: Piracy Trace | Ink, Bits, & Pixels May 27, 2015 um 9:26 pm

[…] that sounds familiar, it should. This is basically the same service offered by Digimarc Guardian (formerly Attributor). Attributor has been doing this for at least 6 years now that I know of, and now it has a cheaper […]

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