Anti-Piracy Organization Accused of Piracy

These days, anti-piracy efforts seem to be an industry in itself. Several businesses have feared that their “intellectual property” would get pirated or boot-legged in some form without compensation.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

Many of these businesses turn to companies that specialize in anti-piracy to protect their bottom line. But what happens when the organizations businesses hire allegedly pirate their intellectual property? One organization recently found out the hard way.

According to a press release, BASCAP introduced a new anti-counterfeiting product recently by gaining access to proprietary information and content. Gieschen Consultancy learned that BASCAP (Business Action to Stop Counterfeiting And Piracy) republished their intellectual property without authorization.

On March 18, 2007, Glen Gieschen, director of Gieschen Consultancy, was receiving hundreds of emails containing counterfeiting intelligence. While this is normal, what wasn’t entirely normal was receiving a number of alerts saying that someone was downloading massive amounts of data from BASCAP.com.

The situation was immediately investigated and an IP trace was conducted. The IP address of 82.108.223.98 was owned by someone registered at ICC’s (International Chamber of Commerce) own Commercial Crime Services based in London, England. By the next day, the Gieschen Consultancy content and databases were removed from the website.

Shortly after, an e-mail was received from the ISS introducing a new anti-counterfeiting product stating it was to replace the removed content. The information was replaced by what was described as remarkably similar – in some cases identical – information to the Gieschen Consultancy’s product. While other breaches in contract were happening with regards to payments, Gieschen couldn’t believe ICC would violate their intellectual property.

Gieschen sent a cease and desist letter the next day. The ICC responded by threatening a defamation lawsuit if Gieschen informed its clients and stakeholders about this action.

While generally uncommon, commercial ventures have reportedly had intellectual violations before. Last month, an artist by the name of Tempest accused a well known producer Timbaland of violating his intellectual property. Timbaland seemed to brush off the controversy by saying that ‘it’s from a video game idiot’ as heard in a YouTube video.

In 2006, the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) was accused in the LA Times of pirating ‘This Film is Not Yet Rated’ (article no longer available).

Perhaps one of the largest-scale breaches of copyright that appears to be rather ironic to some may come from the WTO (World Trade Organization) accusing the United States of failing to pay royalties for public performances of content to other countries under section 110(5) of the US copyright act. This appears ironic in the eyes of many, given that the United States has developed a reputation of trying to enforce US company’s intellectual property outside US jurisdiction. One well-known example of this was last year in June when the US pressured Sweden to shut down ThePirateBay.org.

“The ICC and BASCAP misrepresented themselves as a partner in 2006 and 2007, gained access to proprietary information and then took what they learned and incorporated it into their own product offerings.” Glen explained, “Its functionality, user interface, presentation, method of classification, and delivery is clearly based on our designs and existing products. It is extraordinary that an organization committed to fighting counterfeiting and piracy would steal the intellectual property of another organization.”

“Prior to BASCAPs formation in 2004, Gieschen Consultancy invested considerable effort and resources into the development of a unique set of tools, databases and online content to help brand owners protect their intellectual property. The database alone contains a tremendous amount of intel with more than 10,500 incidents of raids and seizures related to fake and pirated goods valued in excess of US $7.64 Trillion. The irony in this situation is that we must now protect our own investment in our intellectual property, business information, and trade secrets.

Therefore, while we deeply regret the need to inform our clients and stakeholders, given the circumstances surrounding the activities of the ICC, we believe that we have no other choice.”

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.



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