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What to do if your work is pirated online

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

computer-1844996_640For media industries – particularly the music and film industries – file sharing is a controversial topic with many split over the positive and negative impact of the phenomena.

Some creatives, such as the Cuban born musician Pitbull, are proud advocates of file sharing and have even launched their careers of the back of piracy. In the early days of his career Pitbull uploaded his songs to the file sharing service LimeWire under the name of more popular artists in order to gain exposure. While many people were confused as to why the song they downloaded was another artist, many others liked the music enough to hunt down the true identity of the mystery artist and pay for his music.

On the other side of the coin many of those working in creative industries claim that piracy has had an overwhelmingly negative impact on their business. Take for example the hit HBO television programme Game of Thrones. It holds the title for the most pirated TV show of all time with 90 million downloads in just three days for the opening episode of its seventh season. HBO, which relies on TV advertising and premium online subscriptions has been forced to track the IP addresses of file sharers and contact their internet service providers to encourage them to stop.

What is file sharing?

File sharing is the activity in which internet users’ trade files (normally video, audio or software files) through a Peer to Peer (P2P) network. These networks are hugely popular and one of the most common methods for obtaining ‘pirated’ materials. However, they are a clear breach of copyright. Where programmes like iTunes and Amazon Music allow for music fans to download music with copyright owner’s permission, P2P network’s share files without the owner’s permission.

What should you do if your work is pirated?

In terms of legal solutions for piracy there are a few approaches that can be taken. First of all is the option of individual litigation. This involves suing individuals who have infringed on your copyright by sharing your work without your permission. However, litigation can be very expensive particularly if there are a large number of people or organisations sharing your work. An alternative to this is to request personal details of infringing individuals from their internet service providers through what is called a Norwich Pharmacal Order. They can then be contacted and asked to pay a fine or face court action.

If you believe that your copyright has been wrongfully infringed then you should seek immediate advice from an experienced copyright solicitor. Here at Rollingsons our team of copyright and trademark solicitors have handled claims in a wide variety of creative industries. To arrange a consultation, please call us on 020 7611 4848 or click here for further information: .

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