By Keith Byrne, Intelligence Manager, U.K. Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT)
Last month, the fifth and final season of the hit television show Breaking Bad premiered in the U.S. Despite all the legal ways to view the show in the U.S. and in several other countries, many people still viewed the episode through pirate websites. In fact, within a few hours after the unauthorised copy of the episode was uploaded, 80,000 people had shared the file illegally and after 12 hours more than half a million people around the world were estimated to have downloaded the copy.
Such behaviour can have dramatic and negative economic impacts – impacts that often go unnoticed by consumers. When a producer or director is unable to score a box office hit, for example, their ability to secure backing to produce the next film is greatly diminished, setting off a chain reaction that affects the entire production ecosystem from lighting and carpentry, to catering and cinema staff – all of whom depend on the continued survival of the creative economy.
At the U.K.Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), we work closely with law enforcement agencies to fight against all forms of piracy and to protect the intellectual property (IP) of our members, including global and U.K. film distributors, TV broadcasters and sport rights owners.
A 2010 study from Tera Consultants found that in 2008 the European Union’s creative industries most impacted by piracy (film, TV, recorded music and software) experienced retail revenue losses of €10 billion and losses of more than 185,000 jobs due to piracy, specifically digital piracy. The consulting firm also projected that the EU’s creative industries could expect to see cumulative retail revenue losses of as much as €240 billion by 2015, resulting in an estimated 1.2 million jobs lost by 2015. With 67 percent of digital piracy sites hosted in North America and Western Europe, and BitTorrent traffic estimated to account for 17.9 percent of all internet traffic, it’s no surprise that digital piracy continues to deeply affect the revenues of creative industries around the globe.
To combat the explosion of digital piracy, we turned to analytics to help increase our access to better intelligence and improve efficiency in identifying individuals and organisations illegally creating and distributing copyrighted content. With the piracy landscape moving away from DVD formats to digital, it became even more vital for us to detect and target those involved in online piracy. Using IBM Big Data intelligence analysis software, we now have a valuable tool to fight against copyright theft.
By using this technology, we created an intelligence unit at FACT to access publicly available disparate data – and as a result we were able to identify non-obvious links between these data trails, which have led to increasing success through criminal convictions and overall disruption of piracy operations in the UK and further afield. In a landmark conviction last year we secured the criminal conviction for conspiracy to defraud of the owner of a pirate website and a raft of convictions for other website owners.
It’s these successes that make our work valuable to the entertainment industry and beyond. By using IBM analytics, we are able to gain meaningful insights from data that can safeguard the intellectual property and creativity of artists globally for years to come.
This year FACT marks its 30th anniversary protecting the intellectual property of its members across the creative sector.