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How Does One Track Copyright Infringers?

The Dallas Buyers Club (DBC), recipient of three Oscars and countless other awards since 2013 and nominations is one of the pack leaders for rights holders pursuing legal action against those who illegally acquire the film. DBC has notable cases in the United States, Singapore, and Australia. Similarly, a little known 2012 film directed by Robert Redford based on the 2003 book, The Company You Keep (TYCK), is making waves in the United Kingdom against piracy.

Both films have a track record of going after infringers since their respective releases joining the ranks of films like the Expendables 3 (2014) and the Hurt Locker (2008). Nicolas Chartier, heavily associated with Voltage Pictures, has said in regards to his string of lawsuits against infringers of his films, “The day after we announced 20,000 lawsuits, the Internet downloads of Hurt Locker went down about 40 percent”; which is good news for business since to track copyright infringers is a lengthy and expensive process often taking months, if not years, and costing long hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But to track copyright infringers can be complicated process and is usually carried out by government agencies. The British Intellectual Property Office recently published the latest installment of Online Copyright Infringement Tracker Survey to investigate online copyright infringement, attitudes and digital behaviours of people in the United Kingdom for both lawful and unlawful acquisition of copyrighted content. Such a comprehensive analysis of consumer trends covered the period of March to May 2015 and was compared against similar findings for the Fourth Wave of research in March to May of 2013 to establish benchmarks for consumption. Participants in the survey were asked to describe their behavior within the three months leading up to the survey.

Similarly, on the same day, an Australian study for the same period as the survey out of the United Kingdom revealed almost half of all Aussies acquire content by less than legal means. Ultimately, Australia illegally downloads more content than the United Kingdom, but both are at the forefront of revived legal action by the rights holders to films such as The Company You Keep and Dallas Buyers Club.

In recent weeks, DBC LLC and TYCK LLC letters have been sent out to users of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who have been found to illegally acquire content over services like iiNet and Sky Broadband as per judges’ orders. This summer marks the roll out of a new education programme in Britain to raise awareness and to combat piracy. The goal of the programme is to impact future piracy numbers for the next wave survey and to help bring an end to digital piracy.

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