Two weeks ago it was reported that police in Mumbai, India, arrested four current and/or former employees of a third-party Mumbai-based company for suspicion of leaking an unaired episode of “Game of Thrones.” The third-party company was contracted by “Game of Thrones” to process the series through an Indian streaming website.[1]

SUPPLY CHAIN

A fundamental strategy in the protection of all types of intellectual property is to ensure your IP is handled securely at every link of the supply chain.

Although the way media (digital) entertainment is delivered to the consumer is different from physical products, taking all reasonable measures to secure your brand’s IP along the supply chain remains the same, and that especially includes vetting third-party companies.

EIGHT (8) THINGS TO DO

In order to minimize exposure of your IP content to infringement, here are eight (8) things media companies should consider doing before contracting third-party companies:

  1. Conduct a background screening of the third-party company and its principals to ensure the company’s historic commitment to integrity
  2. Personally inspect third-party facilities in which the content will be processed
  3. Confirm there’s an IP Protection policy—“Fenced Enclosure” as it pertains to the transfer and tracking of your content (i.e., which minimizes inadvertent and careless disclosure)
  4. Ensure there are “Strict Limits” as it pertains to employees leaving the facility with trade secret material (i.e., can employees leave with laptops, thumb drives, CD-ROM’s containing proprietary data)
  5. Verify the strict control of what employees and visitors are permitted to carry into-and-out-of the facility in which the processing of your content will take place (i.e., access controls and software, etc.)
  6. Review the IP protection policy as it pertains to outside contractors (i.e., the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) used with outside contractors needs to be robust)
  7. Make certain employees/contractors permitted to enter the processing area is strictly controlled, and only those directly involved in the processing of your content have access (“Compartmentalization”)
  8. Require adequate background checks of employees with access to your IP, and recommend particular attention be directed to those hired from competitors commonly known as “inbound” employees

FINAL THOUGHTS

The media entertainment industry can never rely on email communications or website research, or, a simple handshake, or, for that matter, entirely on a referral, in selecting a third-party contractor in which they intend to entrust their IP. It requires background screening; an on-site visit and inspection of their facilities; and careful review of the company’s IP Protection Policy. It requires the investment of time and resources. The security of your content depends on identifying the weakest link on your supply chain and avoiding it. Third-Party companies are prone to be the weakest link.

[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-leak/indian-police-arrest-four-after-game-of-thrones-leak-idUSKCN1AV20W