A US company is about to start hunting Australian online pirates

Timm Schamberger/Getty Images

US anti-piracy group Rightscorp has been awarded a patent by the Australian Patent Office for a method of tracking internet piracy.

Rightscorp is known for its investigations of BitTorrent and other peer to peer networks. It sends notices to internet services providers (ISPs), threatening penalties of up to $150,000 for copyright violations, hoping the notices are passed onto consumers.

In reality, users are able to settle for as little as $20.

From the Rightscorp website:

When the ISP notifies its subscriber of an infringement (by passing along Rightscorp’s notice), the customer is advised that based on current laws, the user who receives a notice is liable for up to $150,000 in damages. But if they click on the link supplied, the customer is able to remit payment to Rightscorp who passes on a percentage to the copyright owner and the particular instance of copyright infringement can be settled between them and the copyright owner quickly and affordably.

Rightscorp recently made a similar move into Canada, repeating the claim that illegally downloading content could be met with a $150,000 court case. The Canadian Government has called this misleading because Canadian Law caps non-commercial copyright infringements for individuals at $5000.

In a statement, 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.”

The Australian Parliament recently passed an anti piracy bill to tackle the issue, but it is unclear whether Rightscorp will be able to use the same tactics they use in the USs.

A good example is the recent case of the producers of movie Dallas Buyers Club, who won the right to send letters to Australians who had illegally downloaded the movie. The court will review the letters to make sure there is no “speculative invoicing” – claiming that individuals could face penalties far in excess of the cost to the company.

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