IBM big data analytics software helps to identify piracy and copyright infringement

Big data has proved to be pivotal for business and enterprise. Access to real-time information has given insight and has been vital in driving growth and improving cost-efficiency. However, big data analytics is also proving to be a boon in more unusual sectors of the market. It’s has proved to be valuable in both the sports and healthcare sectors, and now is earning its corn in the UK film industry.

However, big data analytics isn’t just being used to predict which films will prove to be the biggest box office hits; it’s also being used to deter piracy and identify copyright infringements.

FACT, the UK’s Federation against Copyright Theft, is using IBM big data intelligence analytics software to help combat piracy of intellectual property among its members. Established in 1983, FACT is dedicated to protecting the intellectual property of its members, and works with industry partners and law enforcement bodies worldwide. Members of FACT include global and UK film distributors, TV broadcasters and sport rights owners. IBM’s big data analytics technology has given FACT increased access to better intelligence and has improved efficiency in identifying individuals and organisations that create and distribute fraudulent, copyright-infringing content in all forms.

IBM’s big data intelligence analytics software has virtually eliminated illegal in-cinema recordings in the UK: only one such recording has been identified in the last two years. Previously, more than 90 per cent of the counterfeit versions of movies originated from a copy recorded in a cinema. FACT’s access to better intelligence has led to more prosecutions of those responsible for the capturing, copying, sharing and selling of illegal pirated copies of audio-visual media.

According to a report published by Oxford Economics and commissioned by Respect for Film, the audio-visual sector loses more than £500 million in the UK each year because of copyright theft. Fraud of this scale has significant economic impact on an industry that supports 1.9 million UK jobs and accounts for more than eight per cent of GDP.

FACT has used IBM Big Data intelligence analytics software since 2005 when it replaced a system of managing large volumes of data in spreadsheets. With an intelligence-led approach, FACT’s data analysts can now quickly establish patterns and relationships, and make non-obvious connections between disparate sources of data.

In one such case in 2012, surfthechannel.com was running a massive pirate movie website. At its peak, surfthechannel.com was the 514th most visited website in the world, providing access to more than 5,000 pirated films and TV programmes. The value of sales lost to the film industry was estimated at up to £198m. FACT’s analysts were able to access publicly available chat logs, forum messages and other generally available data. Using a visual mapping illustration of the data, FACT identified non-obvious links between the various data trails, which in turn assisted with identifying the culprit. Based on this information the owner of the site was charged and found guilty of conspiracy to defraud.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Keith Byrne, FACT’s intelligence manager, said:
“Our role in successfully detecting and targeting those involved in crimes that impact our members requires the ability to foresee and be aware of the technological changes that occur constantly. The IBM technology is vital to our work at FACT and enables us to better protect our members’ valuable creative intellectual property.”
In recent years, FACT has seen a significant shift away from the distribution and sale of infringing film content in DVD format to digital pirating through downloads, file-sharing and streaming. Such fraud impacts not only on the film and television industry and creative talent, but also on cinemas, service industries, retailers and the livelihood of employees who depend on the survival of the creative sector.

According to Shaun Hipgrave, intelligence analytics executive at IBM, the company’s big data analytics technology is now enabling FACT to get to grips with the increasing problem of online piracy and copyright infringement. IBM’s intelligence analytics software provides a dedicated environment for information fusion, collaboration and information sharing. It also helps facilitate and support operational analysis, improve situational awareness and provides faster, more-informed decision making across and inside organisations:

“Providing access to better intelligence can greatly assist in detecting and targeting those involved in crimes of this nature. Our clients are able to make use of IBM technology as a valuable tool in the fight against fraud.”