This post was originally published on Medium, by Custos Tech’s Lead Content Protection Consultant, Jon Roth.

Pop quiz:

How much money do you stand to lose if your feature film lands up on Pirate Bay before its scheduled release date?

(a) None, or,

(b) Nearly 20% of your total revenue?

If you chose (a), you’re likely under the (false) impression that piracy is good publicity.

Unfortunately, that’s just not how the internet works.

Online piracy is estimated to cost the Film and TV industry in excess of $51.6 billion by 2022.


Global online TV and movie revenue lost through piracy from 2010 to 2022 in billion US dollars 

For both emerging and established filmmakers, piracy-driven profit losses can be devastating.

And, even if you haven’t directly been a victim of pre-release piracy, you’re more than likely to be inadvertently affected, as recently proven by new research around the effect of piracy on HBO’s juggernaut, Game of Thrones.


The pre-release leak of four Game of Thrones episodes, early 2015, is one of the most prominent piracy cases in TV history.

The first copies, leaked from a review screener, quickly spread across public torrent sites and were downloaded millions of times.

A new working paper published by economy researcher Wojciech Hardy of the Institute for Structural Research and the University of Warsaw carefully dissected the aftermath.

The findings show that the pre-release leaks triggered more people to pirate, and not just the four leaked episodes. This led to a decrease in expected viewers for Game of Thrones, but also for comparable TV-shows.

“The general conclusion is that the leak provided a strong incentive for some of the viewers to look for unauthorised sources for TV shows and that, in consequence, some of them started watching [other] TV shows through unauthorised channels in general.”

All is not lost, however. Should you find yourself falling victim to profit-slashing piracy, there are steps you can take to minimise the damage before it’s too late.


Here are the steps you should follow if you find out your film has been pirated:

  1. Figure out if and where your film is being pirated.
  2. Send a takedown notice. Then send another one. (And another one.)
  3. Contact your local anti-piracy authority.

Read on for more details around each of the steps you should take if you’ve been a victim of piracy, as well as for useful links, resources, and the contact details of your local anti-piracy or intellectual property authority.


Step 1: Figure out if and where your film is being pirated.

Google is your friend: be sure to use advanced filters to adjust the time period, cross check titles with similar wording, and add your own name or the names of the actors in your film. Alternatively, go directly to pirate sites and search there.

Two bonus tactics to help you scan the interwebs for pirated copies of your content:

  • Set up a Google Alert for your films title on major piracy sites like Pirate Bay:

  • Alternatively, contact Screener Copy, powered by Custos, about using our Piracy Analytics Tool to scan the internet (and the dark web) for your film.

Step 2: Send a takedown notice. Then send another one. (And another one.)

Also known as DMCA Letters, takedown notice templates can easily be found online.

The difficult part?

Getting all of your admin in order, and then locating distinctly elusive contact details on shady pirate sites.


You must send this notice in writing to the webhosting company, which you can learn through a WHOIS lookup. You must provide at a minimum:

  • A physical or electronic signature (i.e., /s/NAME) of a person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the copyright that is allegedly infringed.
  • Identification of the copyrighted work claimed to have been infringed.
  • Identification of the material that is claimed to be infringing and information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to locate the material.
  • Information reasonably sufficient to permit the service provider to contact the complaining party, such as an address, telephone number, and, if available, an electronic mail address at which the complaining party may be contacted.
  • A statement that the complaining party has a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by the copyright owner.
  • A statement that the information in the notification is accurate, and under penalty of perjury, that the complaining party is authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the copyright that is allegedly infringed.


Now, unfortunately, there is no such thing as “international” copyright law. And the above advice only technically applies to rights holders residing in the big ol’ U S of A.

While there are numerous intercontinental treaties and agreements attempting to protect creators from piracy, the actual persecution of online pirates over international waters is a tricky business in the age of the interwebs.

Step 3: Contact your local anti-piracy authority

Here’s a list of a few anti-piracy and copyright authorities around the world:

…Oh, you don’t have time to do all of that?

No problem.

Skip steps 1 through 3 and simply go straight to —

Step 4: Start using Screener Copy to distribute your media, securely.

Screener Copy, powered by Custos Media Technologies, is an online video hosting and distribution platform using forensic watermarking and blockchain technology to protect you from online piracy.

Using Screener Copy, you can:

  • Upload videos to a secure platform
  • Get them imperceptibly watermarked
  • Distribute screeners via email
  • Track who watches what, in real time
  • Be instantly notified of any content leaks, even on the dark web
  • Get support on legal proceedings, should an infringement occur

Visit to request a free trial invite, or chat to us about a custom-built enterprise solution:
+27 21 808 9505
[email protected]