FACT Uses IBM Big Data Analytics To Track Down Online Pirates

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Piracy, downloading © eldeiv Shutterstock 2012

The trade organisation credits the technology for eliminating in-cinema film recordings

The UK Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) has revealed it has been using Big Data analytics tools from IBM to fight online piracy since 2005, helping it virtually eliminate illegal in-cinema recordings in the UK.

The organisation also claimed it was IBM’s software, combined with the efforts of several private investigators, that was responsible for the downfall of popular pirate video indexing platform SurfTheChannel.

Intelligence work

FACT said that previously more than 90 percent of illegal film recordings were made at the cinema. Today, the trend has been reversed, and only one such recording was made in the UK in the past two years. The organisation claimed it was analytics that helped stop the illegal recordings, but it didn’t explain how.

FACT’s claim is disputed by TorrentFreak, which reports that an individual in the UK was arrested earlier this week after being accused of trying to illegally record at least two movies.

Piracy concept with Pirate Movie written on a dvd © gcpics - FotoliaFACT also said that Big Data analytics has led to more prosecutions of those responsible for the capturing, copying, sharing and selling illegal pirated copies of audio-visual media.

The organisation explained it was analytics tools developed by IBM that helped identify Anton Vickerman, the owner of the video indexing platform SurfTheChannel, who was later sentenced to four years in prison. According to FACT, at its peak, surfthechannel.com was the 514th most popular online resource in the world, attracting more than 400,000 visitors a day and offering free access to over 5,000 films and TV shows.

Using IBM’s Big Data platform, FACT analysts were able to sift through publicly available chat logs, forum messages and other data, which helped track down the owner of the website.

Later, the organisation hired an investigator to confirm Vickerman was running SurfTheChannel. This “undercover agent” earned Vickerman’s trust by pretending to be a venture capitalist. Another investigator later visited the owner’s family, pretending to be a potential house buyer. Findings of the investigation eventually resulted in a raid. The ensuing court case had seen the involvement of the Motion Picture Association of America and US authorities.

“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,” said Keith Byrne, intelligence manager at FACT. “The IBM technology is vital to our work at FACT and enables us to better protect our members’ valuable creative intellectual property.”

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

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