Federation Against Copyright Theft

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Federation Against Copyright Theft advertisement on a Hackney carriage

The Federation Against Copyright Theft (informally FACT) is the UK’s leading trade organisation established to protect and represent the interests of its members’ Intellectual Property (IP).

Established in 1983, FACT works closely with statutory law enforcement agencies to combat all forms of piracy and members include global and UK film distributors, TV broadcasters and sport rights owners. Its sister-organisation the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft has a similar focus in the Oceania Region, taking over the responsibilities of the Australian Film and Video Security Office in the early 2000s.

History[edit]

In 2007 FACT reported seizing over 2.8m pirate DVDs and states it has "enhanced its enforcement capabilities against those involved in the manufacture, distribution and sale of copyright material both online and in hard copy format".[citation needed]

Also in 2007, FACT, in collaboration with UK police, took down well known hot-linking site Tv-links.co.uk. FACT makes the claim that the 26-year old man from Cheltenham was arrested in connection with offences relating to the facilitation of copyright infringement on the internet[1] whereas the arrest was over a matter of possible trademark infringement.[2] While arrested under Section 92 of the Trade Marks Act 1994 he has now been released 'pending further investigation' with no charges filed against him as of 25 October.[2][3] Section 92 of the Trade Marks Act 1994 deals with falsely applying signs to goods that may be mistaken for a registered trademark.

In June 2009, FACT brought a lawsuit against the company Scopelight and its founders for running a video search engine called Surfthechannel.com. The organisation accompanied a police raid on the Scopelights owner's homes, Anton and Kelly Vickerman, who collaborated with the police in the initial investigation and they allowed FACT employee's to inspect confiscated computers and the information on them. After a few months the police decided there was not currently sufficient evidence to prosecute the owners for criminal charges. Scopelight's owners requested their property back to which FACT refused claiming they were holding onto the equipment to be used for a civil case against the owners. The issue was brought to court and it was ruled that FACT's actions were improper and the equipment should have been returned as soon as police decided not to prosecute the owners of Scopelight.[4]

In a subsequent appeal (Scopelight & Ors v Chief Constable of Northumbria Police & Federation Against Copyright Theft [2009] EWCA Civ 1156) The Court of Appeal overturned that judgment and instead ruled that the police did indeed have such a power. As a consequence of this successful appeal, the evidence against the directors of Scopelight Limited (Anton and Kelly Vickerman) was heard in a criminal trial at Newcastle Crown Court in June and July 2012. Both defendants were charged under Conspiracy to Defraud (two counts each) and the jury trial took place in front of His Honour Judge Evans.

After a 7½-week trial, the jury found Kelly Vickerman not guilty on both counts and Anton Vickerman guilty on both counts of Conspiracy to Defraud.

On 14 August 2012 Anton Vickerman was sentenced to four years imprisonment on each charge of Conspiracy to Defraud, sentencing to run concurrently. His Honour Judge Evans' sentencing remarks are available here. FACT conducted an Intelligence gathering Operation against Vickerman and his family and associates to include an undercover operations.[5]

In June 2013, FACT got the Usenet file indexing site called NZBsRus to close after issuing cease-and-desist letters to the owner and several staff members.[6]

Anti-piracy warnings[edit]

The 1995-1998 Columbia-Tristar version of "Beware of Illegal Video Cassettes"
Pirate Videos: Daylight Robbery

FACT has produced several adverts which have appeared at the beginning of videos and DVDs released in the UK, as well as trailers shown before films in cinemas.

1990s[edit]

During the 1990s, FACT created a 30 second to 1 minute anti-piracy warning called "Beware of Illegal Video Cassettes", reminding customers to check whether they have a genuine video and how to report questionable copies. They appeared on many different video cassettes by home video companies including Columbia-TriStar Home Video (formerly RCA Columbia Pictures International Video), Buena Vista Home Video, CIC Video (and its successor, Paramount Home Entertainment), Warner Home Video, MGM/UA Home Video, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (formerly, Fox Video), Guild Home Video (and it's reorganization, Fox Pathé Home Entertainment), First Independent Video, Entertainment in Video and 20:20 Vision. Versions for each studio depicting their respective security label (generally a hologram of the studio logo) were created, with several iterations for each as the FACT hotline number changed multiple times throughout the decade. The warning was placed at the beginning of practically every rental released VHS tape in the UK (as well as many retail tapes), similar to the FBI Warning found on tapes in the United States. Since late 1996, this warning was followed by a public information film featuring a man attempting to return a pirate video purchased from a market after discovering that the sound was garbled and the picture unwatchable, ending with the tagline "Pirate Videos: Daylight Robbery."

2000s[edit]

In 2002, FACT created a PIF called "The Pirates are Out to Get You". It features the man destroying many items with an X, ending with the FACT logo and UK & Ireland hotlines before the flame wiping out. They appeared on almost all companies, including MGM Home Entertainment, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, Warner Home Video, and Buena Vista Home Entertainment.

With the advent of DVD, FACT developed a new anti piracy spot, which concentrated more on copyright infringement through peer-to-peer filesharing and less on counterfeit copies. The spot related the peer-to-peer file sharing of movies to stealing a handbag, a car, and other such items (similar to the US FAST "Piracy is theft" slogan of the 1990s). This was parodied in an episode of The IT Crowd'.[7]

The advert has been criticised by the general public and TV personalities alike: the most common complaint being that the advert only appears on genuinely purchased DVDs and cannot be skipped by fast forwarding or pressing the DVD menu button.[8] More recent spots have included Knock-off Nigel, where a man is ridiculed by his friends and colleagues for buying counterfeit DVDs and downloading films from Bit Torrent along with ads that say "Thank You" to the British public for supporting the film industry by either buying a ticket and seeing a film in the cinema or purchasing a genuine DVD/ Blu-ray.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "TV Links website owner arrested for copyright infringement". 22 October 2007. Archived from the original on 29 January 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-29. 
  2. ^ a b Andres Guadamuz (23 October 2007). "No charges filed, man released pending further investigation". TechnoLlama. Archived from the original on 29 January 2009. 
  3. ^ Kevin Anderson (25 October 2007). "Why was someone arrested over the TV Links website?". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 29 January 2009. 
  4. ^ Mike Masnick (7 July 2009). "Why Did UK Anti-Piracy Group FACT Get Computers From A Criminal Investigation... And Keep Them?". Techdirt. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  5. ^ http://torrentfreak.com/movie-studios-compiled-scary-private-life-dossier-on-surfthechannel-admin-120815/
  6. ^ "Anti-piracy group Fact forces closure of large Usenet filesharing index". Wired. Retrieved 3 July 2013. 
  7. ^ "Moss and the German". The IT Crowd. Series 2. Episode 3. 2007-09-07. Channel 4.
  8. ^ "Unable to skip anti-piracy adverts on DVD". Retrieved 2009-01-29. 

External links[edit]

  • FACT homepage
  • Trade Marks Act 1994 [1] (pp46–47)
  • Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 [2]