PR

I find your lack of
IP protection disturbing

I find your lack of IP protection disturbing

Published: 13th December 2019
Area: Corporate & Commercial
Author(s): Kerry Russell

After being launched in the US on 12 November, Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+ has already been the victim of content leaks. High-definition streams of The Mandalorian, a Star Wars spin-off series, have been appearing on piracy sites accessible in the UK.

Disney+ isn’t due to be launched in the UK until March 2020, meaning any further leaks could potentially impact sign-up figures once it does.

Although a number of these streams have now been removed as copyright infringements, it still highlights the issues that can arise when releasing highly anticipated content at different times in different locations.

Kerry Russell, one of our intellectual property experts, gave her thoughts on the situation:

“With the right technical knowhow and hardware, viewers in other countries where the content is not yet available can, through VPNs (virtual private networks), pick up content either for personal viewing or for commercial gain.

“Although it may have seemed odd for Disney to release the streaming service earlier in one country than another, it was likely done for commercial reasons. For example, it may be that it is desirable to build up the revenue in one territory before launching elsewhere, or to test the market in a primary territory. It may also be that existing licenses, with companies such as Sky and 20th Century Fox, covering the UK territories, are yet to expire.

“Star Wars is a major franchise, and leaks were almost inevitable. However, any work available online is always at greater risk of unauthorised copying and sharing. Of course, popular franchises are going to be subject to stronger efforts to leak material. Therefore, right-holders need to take greater measures to protect themselves. HBO, for example, began scheduling the air date of Game of Thrones at the same time in both the UK and the US, to reduce the risk of leaks.

“The best protection for brands is usually technological, rather than legal. However, when a leak does occur, it is possible for a right-holder to apply to the UK Court requesting a ‘blocking injunction’ against the main five internet service providers (operating across 90% of the market), preventing user access to websites offering infringing content.

“Identifying the operator of a website sharing infringing content should – in theory – be fairly straightforward, as website hosts should hold the relevant information on the underlying company or individual operating the site. However, it is easy to be evasive with the information given to a website host, and so, practically, identification is usually more difficult.”

To discuss any aspect of this blog or to discuss your own copyright or trademark issues, contact Kerry Russell on 0121 237 3017 or any member of our intellectual property team, or click here to get in touch.

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