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Téma: Private prosecutions are the way to stop illegal streamers

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    Private prosecutions are the way to stop illegal streamers

    As record numbers watch England in the World Cup, sports broadcasters have a growing array of tools to stop piracy

    Have you heard? It’s coming home. Well, at least that is what everyone hopes, and a nation will be glued to their televisions this evening as England take on Croatia in the World Cup semi-finals.

    This type of global sporting event certainly draws huge global viewership figures: almost 20 million watched the quarter-final on BBC One.

    A massive amount of money has been spent on acquiring the rights to show sporting competitions like the World Cup by established broadcasters, some free to air and some on pay television, along with relatively new digital players.

    Sport has always been a big driver of broadcast revenue. But there is a battle going on between the broadcasters and the illegal streamers who are employing new technology to watch sport free.

    Historically broadcasters have found it difficult to locate the source of pirated services without the aid of statutory bodies to find the signal. But with the rapid development of security features and the rise of streaming, locating sources and those who provide them is now something that the rights holders are actively pursuing.

    In 2018 the English Premier League, in conjunction with British pay television broadcasters and Fact, an anti-piracy organisation, secured a conviction of two people charged with conspiracy to defraud. Both were handed prison sentences of four and a half years.

    The defendants had received at least ?1.5 million by selling hundreds of illegal “kodi” devices that allowed pubs and other commercial premises to watch sports via unauthorised access to television channels.

    That case was brought as part of a system of copyright protection that has been developed by sports rights holders and broadcasters over the past 15 years.

    All too often the suppliers and users of unauthorised systems believed they were making use of loopholes, only to find that they were really engaging in illegal activity and to end up being prosecuted.

    Use of private prosecutions to protect intellectual property rights has been growing for many years, together with information gathered by investigating organisations such as Fact to pursue wrongdoing by way of criminal proceedings.

    With the requisite evidence in place, private prosecutions can be more effective and faster to pursue than many civil actions because there is a tighter control on timetabling in the criminal courts and cases are brought in narrow parameters with clearly defined issues for the court to decide.

    By using private prosecutions and civil copyright measures to protect their brands and intellectual property rights, broadcasters are developing a tactical approach to fighting the illegal streamers, ensuring that only those who have paid for the rights can enjoy football (hopefully) coming home now and in the future.

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