FACT, the Federation Against Copyright Theft, is the trade body which protects its members in the film industry against copyright and trademark infringements in the UK.
FACT works with statutory enforcement agencies (Police, Trading Standards and HM Revenue and Customs and others) in the investigation and prosecution of the illicit import, manufacture and distribution of film product.
FACT members include major British and American studios, television, satellite distribution, media and production companies, industry associations and societies.
FACT has provided this page to help eBay users understand the legislation involved in buying and selling products on line, and to help identify auctions containing illegal film product.
If you believe you have found an auction containing illegal film product, please contact via:
Piracy hotline on 0845 60 34567 / Email to email@example.com / report via our website at www.fact-uk.org.uk
Where we comment on �film product� we are referring to the following formats:
VHS (Video Home System)
VCD (Video Compact Discs)
DVD (Digital Versatile Discs)
UMD (Universal Media Disk (PSP))
iPod (iPod Video)
** to include any other electronic format including back-up copies
Why is there a problem?
Film companies invest a lot of money in preserving the integrity of their names, copyrights, trademarks and logos. Illegally copying and selling film DVDs constitutes an infringement of the company�s intellectual property, and permits them to pursue prosecutions under the Trademark or Copyright Acts.
The penalties range from a maximum fine of �5000 and/or 6 months imprisonment in the Magistrates� Court for selling pirate DVDS, for example, to 10 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine in the Crown Court.
There is also now increasing awareness that sellers of pirated films are often involved in other crimes. Buying, even unwittingly, a pirated DVD can mean the purchaser supporting someone else�s criminal lifestyle, in addition to perpetuating the original intellectual property theft.
FACT is an active member of IEG, the Internet Enforcement Group, which is an industry collaboration of internet practitioners, who are working to resolve IP issues and provide educational and awareness programmes. Visit www.ieg-uk.org to find out more about IEG.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Why was my eBay auction suspended?
A. If this occurred in response to a request from FACT, it means the item(s) you were selling infringed an intellectual property right. You may also have received or be about to receive a Cease and Desist notice. You must take notice of this or risk being pursued through the Criminal Courts.
Q. Why was I allowed by eBay to post my auction if you say it is against the law?
A. eBay does not generally pre-screen auctions (see eBay�s terms and conditions) or verify that sellers have the right to sell the item(s) posted. Responsibility lies with the seller to ensure that he or she has the legal right to sell the item.
Q. Is there a simple way of identifying if a FACT member film product is not legal?
A. There are several; the most obvious being if the film is not yet available to rent or purchase on DVD, or is a recent release still showing in UK cinemas, it is highly likely to be an illegal copy, often of dubious quality having been recorded using a camcorder from the back of a cinema. Descriptions on the auction site such as �can�t guarantee authenticity� �9/10 quality� �this is a DVDR copy� indicate that the item is not legitimate.
Q. I did not make the pirated copy, I thought it was authentic, why can�t I resell it on eBay?
A. It is the seller�s responsibility to ensure that he or she has the legal right to sell the film product. Knowledge / awareness of the illegal product is not required for a seller to be liable under either the Trademark or Copyright Act.
Q. I don�t know which films, television shows or other items are owned by a FACT Member Company � how can I find out?
A. FACT member companies are listed on the FACT website � http://www.fact-uk.org.uk, however any illegally copied film product infringes the copyright of the owner.
Q. But I bought it from another eBay auction
A. We suggest you contact eBay with the details of the seller and the item. Just because the item was purchased from another eBayer, possibly in good faith, does not necessarily deem the product legal.
Q. Can I sell legitimate, original authorised DVDs purchased in the UK on eBay?
A. Any single legitimate product can of course be posted for sale in the territory in which it was originally released, but you are not permitted to take copies of authorised film product to sell.
Q. Can I sell copies of television shows that I recorded from a television broadcast for people who wish to keep up to date with favourite shows?
A. No. These are also unauthorised copies and are liable to be removed.
Q. I downloaded a FACT member company film product from a website and burned my own DVD/VCD. Can I sell this on eBay?
A. No. This remains illegal. Home produced/burnt media downloaded from the Internet would be deemed illegal copied content.
Q. What if I mark a copied product �for educational purposes only� on my auction, can I sell this?
A. No. This is still distribution of pirated product, infringing the copyright of the owner, and against the law.
Q. What will happen if I re-list an infringing item?
A. It is liable to be removed again, and eBay may also remove your user ID and ban you from further sales on the site. FACT may continue to monitor any suspected illegal activity, collating evidence for the statutory authorities.
Q. I reported an infringement. Can you tell me what happened?
A. Our member companies are grateful for any reporting of infringing items, however, our investigations are, and must, remain confidential; in the normal instance once we have received a report of an infringement and acted upon it, (e.g. a cease and desist notice sent to the seller, and the would-be purchasers informed that the product they are viewing on line is infringing and has therefore been removed) there will be no further action on the part of FACT unless a trader persists in posting that item or further infringing items, in which case further steps could be taken.
Q. Can I sell unauthorised product if I warn buyers that the product is not real?
A. No you cannot. The product remains an unauthorised product.
Q. Does this apply also to converted or �back-up� copies?
A. Yes. When �converted� (i.e. a film product copied to another format for another market) and �back-up� refer to unauthorised copies of copyrighted material they remain illegal. There is NO provision for film media backups within UK Copyright Law.
Q. What about press kit screenings and private showings?
A. Any promotional item or pre-screened item for promotional purposes is not permitted. Film companies make great efforts to ensure these are not available; those which do get out remain the property of the film company and any sale is therefore an infringement of their copyright.
You can see more information about promotional items at: http://pages.ebay.com/help/community/png-promotional.html
Q. Can I sell 35mm film prints?
A. No. These remain the property of the film Studios and are not permitted for sale under eBay terms and conditions.
PLEASE NOTE: DUE TO THE LARGE NUMBER OF MESSAGES WE RECEIVE, WE ARE NOT ABLE TO RESPOND TO EMAILS THAT ASK QUESTIONS WHICH HAVE ALREADY BEEN ANSWERED IN THIS ABOUT ME PAGE.
Individuals who use eBay to sell film products described here are guilty of copyright infringement. If sellers persist, and ignore advice to desist, they may be liable to prosecution under the Trademark or Copyright acts.
The penalties range from a maximum fine (in a Magistrate�s Court) of �5000 and/or 6 months imprisonment for selling pirate DVDs, to (in the Crown Court) 10 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.