FACT fights piracy in the UK

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By Steve Hawley, Piracy Monitor

The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) has been helping the UK media industry fight piracy since the days of VHS in 1983.  I was fortunate to intervew Kieron Sharp, FACT’s CEO.

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He explained that media companies and distibutors in the UK have varying levels of awareness and urgency toward piracy.  “Media giants like Sky, Virgin Media and BT Sport understand the importance of anti-piracy,” said Mr Sharp.  “They have a vested interest because they don’t just distribute the content; they often own it and they know just how valuable it is.”

Pay TV operators are increasingly concerned because sites and apps that aggregate TV programming and stream it to consumers via apps and Web sites have become their biggest competition – as has been true in most pay TV market regions.  He noted that concerns about piracy tend to reflect business conditions.  When market share drops, video providers begin to pay attention.

Takedowns are an ongoing challenge

One of FACT’s services is to help bring take-down notices to online companies like Google, on behalf of private individuals.  FACT boasts a 90% success rate in enforcing pirate take-downs.  The other 10% are larger-scale pirates that are handled though alternative actions such as site blocking. A unique attribute of UK law is that private individuals have the right to prosecute piracy cases in the court system, and FACT sometimes acts as an advocate with them.

It’s a long road but small wins help

To be realistic, you can’t fully stop illegal streamers, but every takedown helps. “When illegal streams are taken down, we seek to display the FACT banner which then directs to sites that offer legal content,” said Mr Sharp. “Even if a site comes back after it has been shut down, the pirate loses market share.  So its still a win.”

Asked for any pearls of wisdom, he said “When it comes to piracy, you have to do something, you have to do it right away, and you have to keep at it or the problem will return.  We’re making progress, but there’s a ways to go.”

[ Note: A version of this article also appeared in Fierce Video ]

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