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UK.gov forks out £250k to rescue EROTIC novelists and pals from PIRATES

And they're not even British smut-peddlers

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A government tech quango has handed £250,000 of taxpayers' cash to a British firm which fights to keep erotic fiction, among other things, out of the hands of copyright pirates.

The Technology Strategy Board selected MUSO.com to receive a lucrative Smart Award in the hope it will use the cash to turn thieving internet scoundrels into paying consumers.

But the five firms which have issued the largest number of copyright takedown requests through MUSO.com are not even British.

Google lists the number of URL removal requests it receives from copyright holders in its Transparency Report. These takedown requests allow copyright holders to ask for the removal of links to pirated content, which could be hosted on sites like YouTube or as BitTorrent pages.

Google reveals that the top firm represented by MUSO.com is Eros International, an Indian film producer known for its Bollywood movies. It issued 128,566 takedown requests using the British firm's services.

In second place on MUSO.com's top five client list is Entertainment One, a Canadian entertainment group, followed by the Dutch publisher Meulenhoff Boekerij, a German heavy metal record label called Nuclear Blast and finally the Norwegian film distributor Nordisk Film. All in all, MUSO.com has asked for the removal of 1,103,474 links since May 2012.

Many erotic novelists have also asked the firm to save their purple prose from pirates.

The publishing house Romance Unbound, for example, is well represented on the takedown list. This is presumably due to the popularity of titles like Golden Boy, which is regarded as a classic in the gay bondage and sadomasochism (BDSM) genre, and its sequel, Golden Man.

Cherise Sinclair, who describes herself as a writer of "emotional, erotic romance with a touch of BDSM" has filed more than 1,000 takedown requests, alongside Nina Bangs, author of paranormal erotica novels like One Bite Stand, and writer of other "romance with a bite" books starring vampires, who has asked MUSO.com to scrub just over 400 URLs.

The Viking porn genre has also been protected from pirates, with Gina Conkle, writer of The Vikings Storm Down Under, using MUSO to ask Google to delete links to it.

Chris Elkins, head of film services and co-founder of MUSO.com, told The Register that the presence of relatively small-time writers on the takedown list was due to a recently devised DIY scheme. He claimed this is is the world's only system which allows smaller rights-holders to file their own takedown requests, which MUSO.com automatically sends to Google.

"Most of our clients are film companies from the UK and US," Elkins said. "In fact, 80 per cent of our clients are UK or European. The erotic novelists must have been using our prepay quick start scheme, which is designed for small rights-holders. It's not just erotic authors who use this, but sci-fi writers, horror authors or anyone penning any other genre you can name.

"MUSO.com is the the only company in the world to provide that solution, which is also used by small record labels and independent film producers,” added Elkins.

“We are very forward-thinking and try to understand the behaviour of pirate content consumers and then feed this knowledge back into our tech. Our R&D work builds on that and tries to adopt anti-piracy tactics that aren't just about suing people or being heavy-handed, but using tech in a creative, constructive way." ®

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