Entertainment industry must tackle digital piracy before it’s too late, urges Welsh expert

Entertainment companies must tackle digital piracy before it’s too late or face losing billions annually, a Cardiff-based cyber crime expert has warned.

Luke Heydenrych, an anti-piracy expert at CJCH Consulting, has urged TV and film firms to “fight for their rights” and act quickly to safeguard their futures.

Recently, a Hong Kong-based TV firm and an Australian film company took to court to get illegal TV services and the app stores that support them banned.

If the judge sides with these companies, Android stores that offer people access to illegal apps and pirated content could be shut down. Heydenrych said this is a bold step for the entertainment industry.

“We may think that illegally downloading one film, one show, or one song is harmless. However, on a global scale, that can have devastating consequences for the industries that produce this content,” he said.

“Billions are lost as a result of digital piracy and cybercrime annually, which demonstrates its wide-spread acceptance, but also its ability to evolve and become more sophisticated to continue posing a significant threat.

He suspects that many media firms have been targeted by digital pirates. “The reality is that if your business produces digital media, by way of software, audio and visual media, you have likely been impacted by piracy, even if unknowingly,” said the expert. 

“With that in mind, it’s unsurprising that actions such as we are seeing in Australia have been taken to prevent continued illegal downloading and infringement, and to challenge its growing acceptance among the viewing and listening public.

“We would urge film, music, and TV companies to be brave and take a stand against online piracy, by enforcing their intellectual property rights, and working collaboratively with others across the industry to eradicate this issue.”

A recent report from the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) found that more than 6 million people consumed an illegal piece of content at the start of 2017;

Because of this, companies lost £9 billion through copyright infringement and piracy. However,  Heydenrych warns that online users could also be putting themselves at risk.

“Many people may be totally unaware of the risks they are running by downloading illegal content. Malware is the greatest threat they face today, as this is often embedded in pirated media, which then embeds itself in the user’s system,” he said.

“This can remain on a device undetected only to be activated when needed, and could track which keys the user is typing, or monitoring user data. By doing this, the hacker could then access personal and financial details, or even launch a Denial of Service (DDoS) attack on a company’s server, which could have serious repercussions.

“So, downloading pirated content not only equates to copyright theft, but also opens the individual up to a serious security breach for themselves and others connected to them.”