For many years, anti-piracy outfit Rightscorp has been on a mission to turn piracy into profit.
The company monitors BitTorrent networks, captures IP addresses, then asks ISPs to forward cash settlement demands to its subscribers.
While some companies in the same niche have “gone big” by demanding hundreds or even thousands of dollars for each alleged infringement, Rightscorp deployed a “speeding fine” model. To make Rightscorp go away, the company regularly demanded settlements of between $20 and $30, shared with rightsholders 50/50.
These, of course, mounted up. According to a set of financial results covering the three months ended September 30, 2017, Rightscorp had closed more than 230,000 alleged cases of infringement.
What happened after that is unclear, as the company opted not to report any further financial details in public. If it had, they probably wouldn’t have made pretty reading.
During the nine months ended September 30, 2017, Rightscorp recorded a net loss of $1,448,899. During the same period a year earlier, it lost $1,380,698. As a result, the company had just $3,147 left in cash at the end of September 2017.
Against the odds, however, Rightscorp appears to have kept going, although what that means on an operational level is anyone’s guess. Now, however, the writing appears to be on the wall.
A cursory visit to Rightscorp’s website today doesn’t yield any detailed information. Or, indeed, any information at all.
Most pages are completely blank apart from a solitary line of text on its investor page. An ironic one too given how Rightscorp frequently demanded that ISPs should suspend the accounts of subscribers who refuse to pay up.
We’re not aware of any public explanations being made by Rightscorp but things don’t look bright and sunny on the investor front either.
In January 2012, Rightscorp shares (RIHT) reached the dizzy heights of $0.80 each. At the beginning of 2015, they were worth $0.074, falling to $0.017 in January 2017.
From there, things only got worse. At the time of writing Rightscorp stock is currently worth just $0.0025.
So what next for Rightscorp? It seems unlikely the company is still sending out settlement demands, without a working website it can’t handle any payments. But even if it could, the amounts probably wouldn’t amount to much.
During its last reporting period covering the three months to September 2017, it collected just $45,848 from BitTorrent users but paid out $22,924 of that amount to copyright holders.
Finally (and whatever happens to the company next), it’s important to note that Rightscorp data is still being utilized in various copyright infringement lawsuits filed by music companies against ISPs in the United States, including against Cox Communications and Grande Communications.
Indeed, the data collated for use against Grande customers cost the RIAA $700,000. That was considerably better value for Rightscorp than scraping $20 from each infringer and then having to pay $10 straight back out. That last big deal might’ve been the last throw of the dice but only time will tell.
Meanwhile, Rightscorp founder and former CEO Christopher Sabec is currently advising “cannabis cultivators, manufacturers and other licensees” over at Fox Rothschild LLP, an appointment that was announced this March.