The creative sector has a new ace up its sleeve in the fight against online piracy.

Some of the world’s largest digital media and entertainment corporations have united under the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment, or ACE, a coalition with a mission to finally stamp out online piracy.

The RIAA, BBC, Amazon, Netflix, CBS, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Foxtel and Australia’s Village Roadshow are among the 30 studios, networks and digital companies who’ve signed up for ACE, which promises to get tough on copyright theft with a “strength in numbers” approach.

It’s certainly not the first time creative giants have put aside their differences to fight for the same cause. An alliance of 34 studios and broadcasters banded together as AFACT in a well-publicized legal spat with the W.A. internet service provider iiNet, which was heard in Australia’s highest courts but ultimately found the ISP should bear no liability for third parties’ illegal activity on its networks. The formation of ACE, however, hits another level on the industrial scale.

“The Internet has been an enormous opportunity for creativity,” ACE explains in its mission statement, “but as more content moves online, artists and creators are increasingly harmed by online piracy and the unauthorised and unlicensed use of their works.”

Digital piracy has plagued the content industries since the turn of the millennium, and despite best efforts to contain the problem (initially with lawsuits, then with licensing) the war is far from over.

According to the ACE, currently there are more than 480 online services worldwide available for consumers to watch movies and TV programs legally on demand. Australians have at least 36 legitimate TV and movie platforms and more than 20 authorised digital music services, according to the industry-backed Digital Content Guide.

Even so, the coalition cites data which suggests some 5.4 billion downloads of wide release films and primetime television and VOD shows were illegally shared on peer-to-peer platforms last year, while streaming piracy sites received 21.4 billion hits during the same timeframe.

ACE plans to complete its mission through a combination of research, liaising with law enforcement and content protection organizations, civil litigation and by pursuing “voluntary initiatives with participants across the internet ecosystem to reduce theft,” which would cover search engines and lSPs. The coalition will also draw on the anti-piracy resources of the Motional Picture Association of America (MPAA). In other words, there’s a carrot and a stick approach to curbing copyright theft, and ACE will wield both.

Australians have set something of a gold standard in piracy. For several years in a row ‘Game of Thrones’ has been the world’s most pirated TV-show, and Aussies have been at the front of the queue, accounting for 12.5 per cent of all BitTorrent downloads in the hours after season six premiere last April, according to TorrentFreak.

TIO has reached out to ARIA for comment on the new alliance.

For more information visit www.alliance4creativity.com