Outside of law enforcement, it’s fair to say that the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) is the most feared anti-piracy outfit operating in the UK today.
Over the years, FACT has been central to many high-profile operations targeting torrent and streaming site operators, theater camming incidents, and other Hollywood protection efforts. The group has been responsible for cases which have put several individuals behind bars for a number of years.
However, in just a couple of months’ time, FACT’s work in this area will come to an end. In May, Hollywood decided not to renew their 30-year-old membership with the anti-piracy group.
With an estimated 50% of its budget disappearing as a result, FACT has a big shortfall to make up. However, in an announcement yesterday the anti-piracy outfit said it will do so by branching out into new areas of IP enforcement, outside the audio-visual sector.
“Established for over 33 years, FACT is recognized as the leader in film, TV and sports intellectual property protection,” FACT said.
“However, recent changes have created new opportunities for the organization and now FACT’s expertise and technical knowledge are being extended to brands and businesses requiring support in protecting their content, brand and intellectual property.”
TorrentFreak contacted FACT for more information on where new partnerships were being forged. Details are scarce, but FACT did confirm that the loss of Hollywood’s membership earlier in the year was the catalyst for change.
“The withdrawal of funding earlier this year has given us the opportunity to expand our services to the wider industry,” FACT said.
“Unfortunately it is early days into our working relationship and so we are unable to provide you with any more detail into our new customers.”
While FACT’s skills have often been deployed to protect Hollywood’s film interests, there’s little doubt that the same expertise will transfer to almost any other content transferred digitally online.
Tracking Ebook or gaming pirates, for example, could easily be achieved with the same systems. Equally, FACT’s work with The Premier League, Sky, and BT Sport could provide a good base for further expansion in the same niche – IPTV providers and modded Kodi box sellers be warned.
However, the tone seems to suggest that FACT is looking further afield for enforcement opportunities, possibly in the offline counterfeiting sector.
“Over the years FACT has built a reputation as experts in intellectual property protection who you can value and trust, but until now our services have been available only to film, TV and sport,” says Kieron Sharp, FACT Director General.
“Now we are able to offer our expertise to brands and businesses looking for that extra support when it comes to protecting their products and content.”
While pirates of all sizes will welcome FACT’s departure from movie piracy enforcement, a similar role is already being played by the Police Intellectual Property Unit. Equally, for those who get their kicks from recording first-run movies in cinemas, the job of stopping that from happening now falls to the newly-formed Film Content Protection Agency.
Only time will tell which direction FACT will take, but it’s likely the group will seek to quickly stamp its authority on its chosen sectors, if its revised budget allows.