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In our last article, we wrote about the infamous The Pirate Bay, a site that despite the various legal injunctions and blocking by ISPs still seems very popular.

It might seem, indeed, that blocking would be ineffective if we rely on this example. But reality, as often, is more complex.

Research supports ISP blocking

This study  by Carnegie Melon University shows how blocking of pirate websites makes it harder for an average user to find illegal content. This would encourage those users to move to legal content, and thus allow rights holders to reclaim their revenue.

For instance, the blocking of 53 piracy sites in 2014 in the United Kingdom not only led to a significant decrease in site-specific piracy and overall piracy, but also increased the use of legal subscription sites, such as Netflix, by 7 to 12 percent.

However, this data is rather old, and there is no real certainty about the long-term effectiveness of these methods.

Sporting events in the spotlight

In recent years,  broadcasters of live sports events feel the most pressure from pirate practices. According to the sports newspaper L’Equipe, it is estimated that 24% of Internet users in France visit sites offering pirate content. If we exclude IP TV,  the number of regular pirates of sports events would be more than 2.5 million, and the number of illegal IP TV users would have doubled in the last three years.

In England, sports companies such as The Premier League, Matchroom Boxing and Queensbury Promotions have obtained injunctions to block live sports broadcasts by unlicensed streaming providers, mainly IPTV services. 

While the objectives of these injunctions are broadly similar, blocking pirated IPTV broadcasts is a more complex matter because the servers and systems targeted are less static than traditional websites. It is now known that such blocking could not take place without the active collaboration of the operator Sky, who provided data that allowed these operations to be carried out. In addition, UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) has obtained an extension to the UK High Court injunction it has held since 2017, which required the UK’s major ISPs to block subscribers who have been confirmed to be engaged in sports piracy. The operators concerned would be Sky, Virgin and Vodafone among others.

Goodbye HADOPI long live ARCOM

In France, a bill to fight against audiovisual piracy was passed on September 29, 2021.

The new law is not only the merger of the CSA (Superior Council for the audiovisual)  with the governmental anti-piracy body HADOPI to form a new organism called ARCOM, (Regulatory authority for audiovisual and digital communication). The law also aims to provide a better protection for broadcasters of sporting events. 

The new law allows a simplified legal procedure to request the blocking of sites that infringe the interests of rights holders. It’s a form of accelerated legal action that should, in theory, allow a faster blocking of pirate sites, but also of their mirror sites. Indeed, the blocking can be extended to any site that reproduces all or a substantial portion of the targeted site.

In addition, the new entity will be able to make public a list of the names of sites “that have been the subject of a deliberation in which it was noted that these services infringe, in a serious and repeated manner, copyright or related rights.”

Finally, and this measure is specifically aimed at sports events, the rights holders will be able to claim not only the blocking of streaming sites, but also the blocking of future sites, not yet identified, using a form of dynamic injunction. Nevertheless, many MPs have already made clear that the text does not go far enough. There is also the question of the means that will be granted to the newly created body. It is clearly a step in the right direction, but not a revolution. 

The future of DNS blocking

The future, however, may lie elsewhere – perhaps in DNS blocking. In June 2021, Sony won a major lawsuit in Germany that could force the domain name service (DNS) providers to block access to a website for Internet copyright infringement. Sony Music has succeeded in obtaining an injunction from the Hamburg court, forcing the Swiss DNS company Quad9 to block access to a pirate music site. 

Do you have sporting events or other intellectual property to protect? Do not hesitate to contact us, our team of experts has been working on these issues for more than ten years; we have developed a set of tools that will allow you to regain control of your revenues and protect your creations and events.

See you next week for our article about piracy during the Golden Globes ceremony.