Like many other Hollywood studios, Warner Bros. sees online piracy as a major threat to its revenues.
Torrent sites such as The Pirate Bay represent a thorn in the side and the company is doing everything in its power to limit the damage.
For Warner Bros. this includes targeting individual users of these sites. Not just to warn them that they are breaking the law, but also by demanding money from alleged pirates.
Just recently the Hollywood studio started sending settlement demands to Internet subscribers whose accounts were used to download and share an episode of the popular sitcom Friends.
While the series ended well over a decade ago, Warner Bros. is still keeping a close eye on possible infringements. In one notice, seen by TF, the recipient is accused of sharing an episode from season 2, which originally aired in 1995.
The Hollywood studio says it “appreciates” that the alleged pirate is a fan of Friends, but notes that sharing copyrighted material is a serious offense.
“Although WB understands and appreciates that you are a fan of its content, the unauthorized uploading and downloading of its copyrighted content is a serious matter,” the notice reads.
“Your ISP service could be suspended if this matter is not resolved. You could also be liable for substantial civil penalties for copyright infringement.”
To resolve the matter Warner Bros. offers the account holder an opportunity to settle the case, linking to the page below where the recipient can submit a payment of $20 to avoid further trouble.
While $20 is relatively cheap, Warner Bros. writes that the real damage resulting from the unauthorized sharing is much higher.
“The damage to WB from your conduct substantially exceeds $20, but in the interest of having you stop your infringement of WB content permanently, WB is prepared to make you this settlement offer,” the notice explains.
Warner Bros. first started sending ‘fines’ to U.S. Internet subscribers two years ago. At the time the Hollywood studio informed us that it was meant as a “discouragement of future unauthorized activity.”
However, the automated settlement offers haven’t been without controversy. Warner Bros. and Rightscorp, the company behind the scheme, have been sued for abuse and harassment by several accused downloaders.
This is the first time that we’ve seen people being targeted for downloading video content that’s more than 20-years-old. Friends’ age makes it a rather unusual target, but also suggests that Warner Bros. is still generating decent revenue from the series.