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  • Featured, News, Telecommunications - Written by on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 12:51 - 19 Comments

    Movie Rights Group website shut down, VP leaves

    news The website for controversial anti-piracy organisation Movie Rights Group has inexplicably vanished from the Internet and its vice president of sales and marketing has quit, leading to speculation that the organisation has been shut down for good.

    MRG is a new organisation which was set up in Australia last year with the aim of protecting the copyright rights of content owners in the film industry. In mid-October it was revealed that MRG had approached every major Australian ISP seeking information on users who had allegedly infringed copyright online, initially seeking the details of some 9,000 Australians who it claimed had downloaded the film Kill the Irishman.

    At that stage, the company’s then-vice president of sales and marketing Gordon Walker told Delimiter at the time, there were plans to broaden the company’s efforts to other films.

    Unlike the other major Australian organisation representing the film industry, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, Movie Rights Group had planned to take a different approach to piracy. Instead of legally targeting ISPs for the actions of their users, it was planning to seek to subpoena customer information from the ISPs and contact those who had allegedly infringed its copyright directly, looking to settle the matter out of court or through legal action.

    The website had previously featured a prominent notice informing visitors that one of its chief services was settling lawsuits with Internet users who had allegedly infringed its clients’ copyright. However, Reddit users noted in the past several days that the organisation’s website had disappeared from the Internet.

    In addition, Walker, who had acted as the company’s only known spokesperson, has updated his LinkedIn profile to note that he no longer works for the company as at November and was now a small to medium business development business consultant based in Brisbane. Walker has not responded to an emailed request for comment on the issue.

    The disappearance of MRG’s website and Walker’s departure from the company have come after extensive press coverage on the company and its founders. In addition, national broadband provider Exetel has signalled it may modify its core business systems to make it more difficult for anti-piracy organisations such as Movie Rights Group to target its customers for allegedly illegally downloading content through platforms like BitTorrent.

    Do I think Movie Rights Group has shut down permanently? I’m not sure. The situation is clouded at the moment. With no easy way to get in touch with the rest of the company’s owners or staff, and no real knowledge of what’s happened, I guess we’ll have to wait and see what chips may fall from this one. One thing I do know, however, is that websites don’t just disappear from the Internet for no reason.

    If you do know what has occurred at Movie Rights Group, please feel free to use Delimiter’s anonymous tips line.

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    1. Alienangel
      Posted 22/11/2011 at 12:56 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Extra lolz if the website was given a DMCA takedown notice.

      • Zero
        Posted 22/11/2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

        That brought a massive smile to my face, thankyou :D

    2. Posted 22/11/2011 at 1:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Keep shining the light on these bastards. It’s what they hate the most.

    3. Dean
      Posted 22/11/2011 at 2:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

      $ dig +short movierightsgroup.com

      $ whois
      . . .
      Hyperfocus Media, Inc. NET-64-237-47-64-26 (NET-64-237-47-64-1) –
      . . .

      Perhaps you could get in touch with the owner of the IP address movierightsgroup.com resolves to, Hyperfocus Media? They seem to have a Linked In profile at least.

    4. Posted 22/11/2011 at 2:10 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Completely unsurprising and no doubt what iiNet were banking on happening when they voiced “support” for their process. Just like in the US, it is unsustainable under the current set of laws.

      This is what SOPA is intended to address though. If SOPA passes, entities like this will become a dime a dozen.

      • atter
        Posted 22/11/2011 at 9:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Er, no, this is nothing to do with SOPA. SOPA is about attacking websites, mainly by going after their payment processors.

    5. Posted 22/11/2011 at 4:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Considering the things that people have exposed about the two brothers in the past few weeks I am not surprised they have walked away from this one with the tail between their legs.

      • Sean
        Posted 22/11/2011 at 5:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

        [Censored — sorry. Renai]

        Class act! It appears they were looking to jump on the Digital Rights bandwagon to make some easy money.

        • Posted 22/11/2011 at 5:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

          And, what’s the problem with them being a subsidiary of a business that has investments in the [censored for legal reasons] industry?

          While not the type of sites I frequent personally (and by the sounds of neither do you), it is a legitimate and legal business. Striking them down because you disagree with what they do [censored] is unjust, and just as bad what the ACL and similar do.

          [Note: Apologies –Renai]

          • Sean
            Posted 22/11/2011 at 9:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Even though Renai censored my post I did not imply that running a ******** business was illegal. My point is to merely state that their interest in Digital Rights was purely driven from a profit point of view rather than any ethical reason. ;)

            • Posted 22/11/2011 at 9:43 pm | Permalink | Reply

              It’s a shame Renai edited your post so highly but that was my point, the business in question wasn’t illegal, and you were stating their efforts were purely profitable based on the ethics of the other business.

              Regardless, since your original post is gone it’s pretty futile to argue about what it did or did not say :/

          • Jeremy
            Posted 23/11/2011 at 11:51 am | Permalink | Reply

            Seriously, you can’t see the problem? Would you be happy for your personal details to be in the hands of such characters?

            Their business may be (mainly) legal but they are still not the type of people that should have access to the personal details of others.

    6. Duke
      Posted 22/11/2011 at 5:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

      The exposure of the brodudes two main assets – the gangstawannabeeaplayatryhard chin fluffs – led to speedy closure pending schick attacks and possible return as babysbum jawbois…

    7. R
      Posted 22/11/2011 at 8:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I think they’ve shut up for good. Unlike in the US, the Aussie ISPs are much less likely to simply keel over for RIAA/AFACT/MRG/etc, and suing individuals isn’t economically feasible if they actually have to go through courts.

    8. T J
      Posted 23/11/2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink | Reply

      Good riddance.

    9. BD
      Posted 23/11/2011 at 2:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I know letters weren’t sent out to those who allegedly downloaded the movie so we don’t know what amount of monetary compensation would have been requested however from news articles they were proposing it would be around $3000. What I find unfair with that is how is such an amount derived. I know a barrister who’s represented people who have blatantly infridged copyright (selling non-genuine copies of various things – not just electronic media) and have been fined in court a pittance in comparison. So if someone through MRG’s intimidatory strategy paid up in full they’re probably in reality getting shafted….of which obviously MRG would know & hence why people resent them. If you downloaded something & didn’t pay I’d agree someone’s within their rights to seek compensation for the sale and even double/triple the purchase price for their time & effort…but asking for 100 times the value! Obviously just opportunists and why it doesn’t go down well publically.

      • Downloder
        Posted 24/11/2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink | Reply

        $3000 is the amount at which an individual will pay up rather than be embarrassed in the court… it is approx slightly less than what it would cost to hire a lawyer for a day to go to court for you. Thus an obvious number! The number is not based on any “losses” sustained by the film company whatsoever.

    10. Jason Simmons
      Posted 23/11/2011 at 11:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Unfortunately those a-holes are still registered as a company. This doesn’t mean they’ve finished…


      • Jeremy
        Posted 24/11/2011 at 5:22 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks for the Asic link, we can see if they renew their ABN on the “Next Review Date: 03/11/2012″

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