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A company in Russia has developed software which claims to disrupt and prevent people from downloading pirated content.

Pirate Pay has been backed by Microsoft and has been utilised by Walt Disney Studios and Sony Pictures to stop masses of downloads.

The software poses as real bit torrent users but then confuses peer-to-peer networks, causing disconnections.

It has been claimed by the entertainment industry recently that the downloading of pirated material – music, videos, image – cost copyright holders billions of pounds in lost revenue every year.

Pirate Pay originally started life as traffic management software for internet service providers.  It soon developed when it was discovered that it could be used to swamp peer-to-peer networks with false information. “After creating the prototype, we realised we could more generally prevent files from being downloaded, which meant that the program had great promise in combating the spread of pirated content,” said Andrei Klimenko, the company’s chief executive, in an interview with Russia Beyond the Headlines.

The technology has received high-profile praise from the president of Microsoft Russia – Pirate Pay was awarded one million rubles (£62,000, $100,000) from a seed investment fund set up by the company behind Windows. A recent campaign saw Pirate Pay “protect” recent Russian film Vysotsky. Thanks to God, I am Alive, made by Walt Disney Studios.

Although exact details on how the system operates are not known outside of the company, security researcher Richard Clayton from the University of Cambridge have said it was a process that could work, if only in the short term.

Mr Clayton noted: “You don’t solve social issues with technical fixes. The social issue here is that a lot of people think that the legal offerings are too expensive and don’t provide what they want. Once you solve that, nobody’s going to want to mess around with complicated bits of software to get what they need.”

Other critics note that it is only a matter of time before it will be circumnavigated.

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