December 10, 2020
How Industry Collaboration Took Down a Major Piracy Ring
We were thrilled to win a SportsPro Award in the “Best in Anti-Piracy” category. This win brings to light the importance of industry collaboration in the fight against piracy, and particularly in live sports. Read on to learn more about our entry and the key players that made this achievement possible.
Last June, a coalition comprising La Liga, Deutsche Fussball Liga (DFL), Nordic Content Protection, the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) and NAGRA closed down an illegal IPTV streaming network based in Spain that served more than 2 million paying subscribers worldwide. The pirate network was offering 40,000+ video channels and video-on-demand content covering a wide range of channels, sports events, films documentaries and series. The channels included premium sports channels such as La Liga TV, Sky Sports and beIN Sports. By consolidating data from NAGRA’s intelligence database alongside that from all major stakeholders, NAGRA was able to create a comprehensive dossier that gave basis to the criminal complaint. Although based in Spain, the successful operation shut down over 50 pirate servers located in various countries across Europe. Financially, it was estimated that the operation had produced EUR15m+ in profit although the damage to the content industry was considerably higher.
Commenting on the coalition’s success and the key role such collaboration plays, Melcior Soler, Audiovisual Director at LaLiga said, “Piracy is a global problem and it’s critical for the industry as a whole to come together to fight it, share knowledge and leverage key partnerships and anti-piracy technologies to preserve high-quality content for our fans.” With over six million euros confiscated from the pirates, this campaign and resulting raid provided a clear and strong signal to other pirate groups that organised IP crime does not pay off in the long-term when faced with the capabilities of a formidable industry alliance.
The investigation into the activities of the criminal network started in 2019 when several websites illegally distributing video content in different countries across Europe, Asia and the Middle East were detected. Made available to consumers via seemingly genuine professional websites at prices much more competitive than those on the legal market, the criminal network had even put in place a sophisticated technical assistance and quality control option through an online customer support platform.
Prior to the raid, the team collected evidence using the breadth of skills provided by NAGRA’s Anti-Piracy Litigation & Investigation team whose collective experience includes over 40 years of law enforcement experience including ex police officers, 30 years of field operations experience and 20 years of online investigations experience. The team also made use of NAGRA’s OMNIS intelligence platform to identify the magnitude of the piracy operation and dynamically monitor the expansion thereof throughout the law enforcement investigations. As the largest anti-piracy intelligence database in the world, the OMNIS platform allowed the teams to trace the tentacles of each illegal server to identify those pirate subscription services connected to it as well as those syndicating it.
The case’s successful outcome could not have been achieved without close collaboration between all stakeholders – content owners, governmental entities and anti-piracy companies – and is a clear demonstration of how such efforts can have a real impact on stopping the spread of commercial piracy. NAGRA’s Anti-Piracy Litigation and Investigation team continue to be successful in supporting rights holders in reducing their exposure to the illegitimate redistribution of their content and where necessary mounting legal challenges to shut down pirate operations.