For years the anti-piracy outfit has been bombarding ISPs all over the United States with copyright infringement notices. Rightscorp expects these to be forwarded to the ISPs’ customers so that an attached ‘pay-up-or-else’ warning results in a cash payment.
Sadly for Rightscorp, this is a business model that simply isn’t paying off. The company has just published its latest quarterly report, and it makes for grim reading.
During the three months ended September 30, Rightscorp generated just $139,834. That’s down from $215,196 during the same period in 2015, a drop of 35%. Losing a third of revenue year-on-year is clearly a huge problem, but once again the company insists this is due to circumstances beyond its control.
Just as the company reported for the three months ending March 2016, Rightscorp’s woes are down to three elements.
The first, it says, are “changes in the filesharing software intended to defeat detection of copyrights being illegally distributed.” The statement is almost certainly deliberately vague, but it seems likely that this is a reference to more users turning to VPNs and similar technology to avoid detection.
The second is down to ISPs, who are refusing to forward Rightscorp’s settlement demands to their subscribers. This is particularly interesting. Rightscorp customer BMG won a case against Cox Communications which at its core centered on Cox not terminating users that Rightscorp claimed were repeat infringers. It appears that not even a $25m verdict in BMG’s favor has the power to push Rightscorp’s settlement demands in front of more subscribers.
The final element is Rightscorp’s claims that “the shutting down of some filesharing network infrastructure” is affecting their ability to get subscribers to settle. Again, the statement is deliberately vague, but with millions of torrent users operating without VPNs in the United States, finding pirates should still be like shooting fish in a barrel.
With these three elements at play, Rightscorp is under-serving its clients. For the three months ended September 30, 2015, the company returned $107,598 to copyright holders. In the same period this year, that had dropped 35% to just $69,143.
What Rightscorp desperately needs is a larger pool of copyrighted titles to monitor, but the company isn’t doing enough to get itself noticed. For the three months ended September 30, 2015, the company spent a measly $5,396 on advertising and marketing. During the same period in 2016 it invested just £337.
The company has tightened its belt in other areas too, including in general and administrative expenses, salaries and other professional fees. However, unlike the apparent neglect of sales and marketing, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Total wage and related expenses for the three months ended September 30, 2016 were $294,262. Legal fees were ‘just’ $68,161, down from $318,211 in the same period last year. In total the company spent $386,865 on expenses, down from $729,724 in the same period last year.
But with revenues drastically down, the expense-cutting measures still aren’t enough. As a result, for the three months that ended September 30, 2016, Rightscorp recorded a net loss of $385,433, a modest improvement over the $424,168 loss it managed in the same period last year.
So, from January to September 30, 2016, this is how things are looking for the anti-piracy group versus the same period in 2015.
Revenues: $354,160, down 53% from $756,916
Payments to copyright holders: $174,878, down 53% from $378,458
Operating expenses: $1,939,982 versus $2,027,545
Bottom line: Net loss of $1,380,698 versus net loss of $3,120,197 in same period 2015
To date, Rightscorp has never turned a profit and the way things are looking it doesn’t seem likely to anytime soon. However, time is running out. The company has less than $7,000 in the bank and needs a cash injection real soon to have any hope of continuing as a going concern.
“Management believes that our existing cash on hand and ongoing revenues will be sufficient to fund our operations through December 2016. Management believes that the Company will need at least another $500,000 to $1,000,000 in 2017 to fund operations based on our current operating plans,” Rightscorp’s filing concludes.