Friday, July 10, 2015

Anti-Piracy Outfit Defrauds Rights Owners out of Millions


Digital publishers and movie studios often turn to anti-piracy organizations to serve cease and desist letters or even take people to court to collect royalties. Who policies the anti-piracy companies to insure that they are reporting all of the revenue they attain through lawsuits and collection efforts?

Over a decade ago the Danish entertainment and publishing industry saw the writing on the wall and formed a coalition that was known as Antipiratgruppen or the (Anti-Piracy Group).

Of course, all anti-piracy groups need lawyers and as a result Danish lawfirm Johan Schlüter was hired for the job. The company became deeply entrenched in tracking down pirates and it became their full time job developing tools and collecting money from piracy organizations.

Where was the money that was collected going? The Anti-Piracy Group began to wonder when a series of big cases were settled out of court and they were only getting a pittance. An independent study by auditing company Deloitte, has revealed that an owner of the Johan Schlüter Law Firm illegally pocketed at least $15 million dollars and a police investigation is now underway.

What makes the case so intriguing is the allegation that the money in question should have been distributed to movie and TV industry associations and their underlying rightsholders. The groups – CAB, Filmkopi and Filmret – hired Johan Schlüter to handle the registration, collection and administration of their rights but it appears the lawfirm hasn't been playing things fair.

Pirate websites and for profit operations tend to garner the majority of headlines worldwide. Everyone takes piracy seriously, but who insures that the anti-piracy organizations and their cadre of lawyers aren’t just pocketing the money themselves? Apparently Johan Schlüter was embezzling money from 2011 to 2015. The associations say they are in "shock" that their twenty year collaboration with the lawfirm has ended this way.

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