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Sick as a parrot: online soccer pirates disrupted by coordinated police raids


via Flickr © spablab (CC BY-ND 2.0)

  • Streaming content piracy crackdown
  • English Premier League goes after highly organised pirates disguised as ISPs

Dutch digital platform security expert, Irdeto, is claiming bragging rights in the wake of successful, Europe-wide series of  police anti-piracy raids.

The raids were the result of an investigation initiated by the English Premier League (soccer) which is finding out the hard way that the downside of running a fantastically successful and highly  lucrative  global sport content distribution business is that thousands of criminals decide they also want a piece of the action and then seem to find it relatively easy to get themselves organised for some illegal online redistribution of your live broadcasts.

But the Premier League has decided to fight back.

It’s been announced today that it  and Irdeto collaborated with a slew of European law enforcement agencies to identify and shut down illegal IPTV piracy businesses operating across Europe. The Spanish National Police, Europol, Eurojust and others conducted raids in 12 locations across Spain and Bulgaria under the codename Operation Casper. Eight individuals have been arrested for the illegal distribution of 1000 pay TV channels distributed via two ISPs  using IPTV technology.

Irdeto claims the raids shut down the servers used to provide illegal access to the channels and netted incriminating documents.

The announcement says that “the Premier League had identified a Danish citizen residing in Spain who owned an ISP in Málaga used to illegally broadcast encrypted TV signals to thousands of consumers across Europe. It was discovered that this individual was the leader of a criminal organization that was able to provide a high-quality pirate service rivaling offerings from legal ISPs. Operation Casper also uncovered another illegal organization located in Silistra, Bulgaria that was operated by the same criminal organization who had another internet provider in that location covering different European countries. Both of the ISPs identified were legally established, performing legal activities while also exploiting their capacities to provide illegal services.

Meanwhile, people benefiting from piracy are also starting to feel the squeeze as the big content providers shout “enough is enough”. Amazon, for instance (no doubt partly because it is, itself, a big content distributor) is taking a dim view of retailers selling piracy-enabled boxes and software from its online retail platform. It has now banned the vendors of these gadgets, like the apparently thriving Kodi box which enables customers to intercept the pirate streams.

It has also warned that sellers who violate the policy, that any stock stored in Amazon fulfilment centres will be destroyed without any reimbursement, having had a sort of Google realisation that not only was equipment designed to pirate content being sold from its platform, but that Amazon itself was inadvertently benefiting from the practice. Cue corporate outrage.

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