There are millions of Internet users grabbing content from file-sharing networks each and every day. These mainly BitTorrent bandits cost copyright holders millions in lost revenues but with a little trickery it’s possible to make them pay.
We’re paraphrasing, but this is the basic marketing message of anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp, the company that tracks down file-sharers and demands up to $30 compensation to make supposed lawsuits go away.
It’s meant to be a profitable little number but the company simply cannot make it work. After going public two years ago, the company lost $3.4 million in 2014. In the first quarter of 2015, things hadn’t improved. While generating revenues of $307,904 in the first three months of the year, Rightscorp still managed to lose $929,768.
Now the company has published its results for Q2 2015 and the financial picture is bleaker than ever before. First up (and despite claiming to represent increasing numbers of clients and copyrights) Rightscorp revenues are down.
In the three months ended June 30, the total amount Rightscorp was able to squeeze out of millions of file-sharers was down to just $233,816. That represents a 7% decrease when compared to the same period in 2014 but a 24% drop in revenues when compared to Q1 2015. The company blames the revenue decrease on the “disproportionate amount of time” it spent “supporting clients in legal matters”.
Of course, the selling point of the entire Rightscorp operation is to monetize file-sharing by generating revenue for copyright holders. However, in the past three months the company paid just $116,908 to its clients, that’s down on the $125,740 it paid out during the same period in 2014.
But if falling revenues represent a headache for Rightscorp, its operating costs are an unrelenting migraine. In Q1 2015 Rightscorp’s operating costs exceeded $1.2m but in Q2 things really got out of hand with the company burning through almost $1.96m.
General and administrative fees for the three months ended June 30, 2015 totaled almost $1.8m, uncomfortably close to a million more than the $832,334 spent during the same period in 2014. Two main factors are behind this huge bill.
In Q1 2014, Rightscorp spent $241,347 on wages and related expenses but in the same period this year those costs had increased to $335,073. In the most recent quarter the company spent $674,885, despite dwindling revenues and paying less to copyright holders than before.
However, the big shock comes from the money being burned on legal action. Rightscorp is currently being sued over the methods it uses to collect cash from alleged pirates and that appears to be taking its toll.
“Legal Proceedings totaled $579,780 for the three months ended June 30, 2015, compared to $122,190 for the three months ended June 30, 2014, related to certain legal actions taken against the Company,” Rightscorp explain.
The bottom line is that the company made an operating loss of $1,722,507, close to a million more than the $743,599 it lost in the same period last year. That brings Rightscorp’s 2015 losses thus far to a little over $2.65m.
Should it continue to perform at the current rate, Rightscorp will make an operating loss of more than $5m this year, $1.6m up on the $3.4m it lost in 2014. However, there are at least some signs that the company is taking measures to improve revenue.
Firstly, reports suggest that Rightscorp is now seeking $30 from alleged infringers, up from the $20 it charged previously.
There are also indications that the company is becoming more aggressive with alleged pirates who refuse to settle for relatively small amounts of money.
While this may bring in some additional revenue, the action could also be useful to scare more Rightscorp targets into settling for small amounts rather than becoming tangled in expensive legal action. But whatever the results from these tweaks, Rightscorp clearly needs to do something soon.
“The Company has not yet established an ongoing source of revenues sufficient to cover its operating costs and to allow it to continue as a going concern. The ability of the Company to continue as a going concern is dependent on the Company obtaining adequate capital to fund operating losses until it establishes a revenue stream and becomes profitable,” Rightscorp writes.
“If the Company is unable to obtain adequate capital it could be forced to cease operations. Accordingly, these factors raise substantial doubt as to the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern.”