Rightscorp receives Australian patent for Internet piracy tracker


news US-headquartered copyright enforcement company Rightscorp this week revealed it had received an Australian patent for its technique for identifying copyright infringement online, in a move that appears to signal the organisation’s plans to target Internet pirates down under.

Rightscorp is a corporation based in Los Angeles which makes revenue from locating copyright violators online and filing lawsuits against them on behalf of those who own the rights to film, television, music and video games. The company’s standard technique involves sending Internet service providers copyright violation notices and requesting that they send the notices on to users.

The company appears to have been successful in its endeavours. In May 2014, for example, Rightscorp stated that it had added an additional 500,000 new copyrights for representation, bringing its total ownership portfolio to over 1.5 million copyrights. It has said that the subscribers of more than American 70 ISPs have paid settlements to the company.

Rightscorp states that it targets “minimum statutory penalties of $750 and up to $150,000 per infringement”, however reports from the US indicate that it has targeted settlements of between $10 and $20 per alleged infringement.

In a statement released this week, Rightcorp said the Australian Commissioner of Patents had granted Australian Patent 2012236069, for Rightscorp’s “System to Identify Multiple Copyright Infringements”. The patent will expire April 2, 2032.

This marks Rightscorp’s first patent in Australia, according to the company. It stated: “Due to record levels of rampant piracy, the Australian Senate recently passed an anti-piracy website-blocking bill to help rights holders deter online piracy of film and TV shows. In 2014, Australia’s Attorney-General George Brandis stated that Australia was the “worst nation for piracy on the planet.””

Christopher Sabec, CEO of Rightscorp said, “There is a tremendous need in Australia for content protection. Our proven technology is effective, making it an ideal solution for artists and copyright holders in every region. Australia has been plagued by infringement over the years and is now taking key initiatives to curb piracy. We believe our technology will be an invaluable asset to the Australian entertainment industry.”

Rightcorp may not find it as easy to operate in Australia as it would prefer, however.

The Federal Court ruled in August that copyright owners could not use the preliminary discovery process to sue alleged Internet pirates for punitive damages, in a move that will be likely to limit the potential liability of those Australians illicitly downloading films and TV programs. The judge in the case has also placed additional controls on those seeking to target alleged Internet pirates in Australia, and has taken personal responsibility for the issue.

In addition, talks between the ISP and content industries on an industry code to tackle the issue appear to have stalled over the cost issue.

Past attempts to bring mass lawsuit-style copyright enforcement actions in Australia — in 2011 and 2013 — have not bourne fruit for copyright owners.

It appears Rightscorp is quite serious about targeting Australian Internet pirates — even going so far as to file a local patent on the issue. This would appear to indicate that we can see some action from the company locally shortly. I would encourage readers to publish letter they receive from the company so that the public is aware of its activities.

Image credit: Rightscorp


  1. Given the current legal rulings set over “speculative” billing here, and slightly different laws – they may well find there isn’t much fertile ground.

      • I’m not so sure, unless they can find a way to profit I don’t see why they would bother. Either that or the suddenly actually care about copy right for copyrights sake vs just a profiteering exercise.

        Currently with the way the judgements gone down they won’t be making any profit and likely not even break even to prosecute the file sharers.

  2. So here is a question: if I used a VPN all the time then what can they do? I can say “well yeah it is ‘my’ IP address but the same VPN IP address could have been used at the same time by someone else.”

  3. The patent might be more a shot across the bow of that popular (but rather anon) Aussie firm tracking down all the copyrighted file sharers for the US firms etc (because ‘pirates’ they’re not ;) ).

    I don’t see how a patent here will help them much or why it would be necessary to start operating here either.

    • My understanding is that they get paid by the rightsholders – or at least take a cut of the revenue from chasing copyright infringers.

      If they can lock out competitors by stopping them using (this type of) tracking technology then they can charge more for the services and/or differentiate themselves from others & get a larger market share of companies hiring them.

      It’s all about the money.

      It’s also possible that the TPP will provide them with better options – and given their size, they may be aware of what those changes are.

  4. Could be something is simple as protecting IP, by lodging a patent here; doubly so if similar methods are being used here already (and thus are taking an income stream Rightscorp intends to leverage).

    Either way, whilst there might be money from the content owners, the current rulings on proceedings here means there can’t be much to gain directly from the consumer, surely?

  5. If they’re aiming for US$10-20 an infringement it sounds like they could work with what the Australian courts seem to be happy with.

    Mass sweeps picking up the low-hanging fruit/pirates, charge ’em all AU$20-40 a file, low overheads due to the en-masse approach, and an attractively cheap get-out-of-“jail” price for the accused.

    Build their market share quickly before other companies get involved & so establish themselves as the go-to cheap mass provider of copyright enforcement in an affluent high-piracy country. Moral questions aside, it’s an appealing concept for an investment.

    The question is just whether they can get the copyright holders on board, but their past success would probably help with that.

    • Hmmm, $20-40 per “film”, with no DRM, and I get to keep it. I might just “buy” it at that price. Heck, might even be a market for such a product!

  6. For all those that haven’t bothered to take a look at the actual filing, this was originally put to IP Australia on 30/10/2013, well before any adverse (to copyright holders) court findings.

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