Anti-piracy firm hit by leak

E-mail embarrasses MediaDefender

Thousands of internal e-mails from Media-Defender were leaked to the Internet via various BitTorrent servers during the weekend, exposing many of the company's activities with some embarrassing results.

The anti-piracy company works with the music and movie industries to foil unauthorized file-sharing through the use of decoy files and other tactics. The e-mails, more than 700MB worth, detail many of these strategies.

Among the leaked documents is a draft of a contract with Universal Music Group outlining how MediaDefender works with record labels. According to the document, MediaDefender charges $4,000 to protect an album for a month and $2,000 to protect a specific track for a month. It targets more than 12 million users on the top 15 P2P networks.

Another e-mail included the company's involvement in setting up a fake video-sharing service as a sort of sting operation designed to lure and identify file-sharing users. The company previously denied any involvement in the site, but the e-mails show its participation.

Other e-mails reveal a secret collaboration with the New York Attorney General's Office to develop a way for prosecutors to access MediaDefender's database of P2P users.

Antony Bruno is a contributor to Billboard.