While the mainstream recording labels and movie studios regroup to tackle the piracy issue from new directions, other companies are being convinced to do things the old-fashioned way.
In move reminiscent of the RIAA’s war on the public during the last decade, hundreds of thousands of Internet users are now receiving demands for cash settlements after allegedly downloading and sharing copyright-infringing content.
Alongside traditional ‘trolls’ such as the now-infamous Malibu Media, US-based Rightscorp Inc. has been recruiting copyright holders to pursue alleged pirates for relatively modest sums. As previously reported, in emails sent via their ISPs, subscribers are asked for $20.00 to settle copyright complaints.
One of the more recent additions to the Rightscorp fold is US-based entertainment company Miramax. The distributor has hundreds of movies in its catalog, with the image below representing just a tiny sample.
As can be seen top right, the Tarantino classic Kill Bill: Volume 1 is a Miramax title and one that is now being handled by Rightscorp. The company has been sending out cash demands to alleged sharers via their ISPs and some have taken to file-sharing sites including The Pirate Bay to send warnings to other potential downloaders.
“I got [a settlement demand] sent to me recently via email. This file is being tracked,” a user of the Pirate Bay explained.
Tracing back the details the user posted in the comments section of a Blu-ray ‘YIFY’ release led TF to the relevant settlement page on the Rightscorp website. As shown below, the company wants $20.00 to settle the case.
The extent to which Miramax has exposed its hundreds of other titles to Rightscorp is currently unknown, but in the particular case detailed above the company won’t be picking up any cash. The settlement page is yet to be filled in suggesting that the recipient simply ignored the demand which, incidentally, was sent to his ISP Charter Communications.
And here lies the problem. Although Rightscorp currently claims to have “closed” 100,000 infringement cases, in the majority of instances recipients are free to ignore the company’s demands since their identities remain a mystery to the anti-piracy outfit.
While thousands have undoubtedly paid up, the company refuses to reveal what percentage do not. Even investors on a recent conference call with the company were told the figures were a trade secret.
While companies like Miramax are testing out the cheap settlement option, there are signs that investor confidence could be much better. Since the company went public (NASDAQ) late 2013, the trend after the first quarter of 2014 is all downhill, with a particularly steep drop off at the end of last month.
The $20 request is an attractive amount for people to put a complaint completely behind them, and Rightscorp clearly know that, but discussions on community sites suggest that file-sharers are beginning to realize that paying up a few bucks might only be the beginning.
Rightscorp often send users a $20 claim for a single track and then once that amount is paid their target discovers that they’re on the hook for the rest of the songs on the album they downloaded, at $20 per track thereafter.
Only time will tell if the Rightscorp strategy will pay off, but if the company finds itself in worsening conditions it wouldn’t be a surprise if the amounts demanded for settlement begin to increase, alongside an even more aggressive pay-up-or-else tone.