On social networks and elsewhere on the Web, there are many offers for IPTV services and for devices allowing to watch it. More and more people are using it – and even more since the Covid 19 pandemic.

But do you know what are IPTV services exactly, and what are the risks of using them?

What is IPTV ?

IPTV is the acronym for Internet Protocol Television.

It allows the viewer to watch television channels, programs, sporting events and other live events through the internet.

You only need an Internet access and a subscription to access IPTV.

What is the difference with regular television?

The traditional means to broadcast television are cable, fiber-optic cable, satellite or the classical antenna. However, these methods do not allow the viewer to control what they can watch. They have to follow the schedule set by the channels.

With IPTV, you can watch programs on a delayed basis, which allows much greater flexibility.

So, is IPTV legal, or not?

IPTV is a technology, a protocol that allows access to television on demand. As such, IPTV is neutral.
SVOD (Netflix, Amazon prime etc.) is a form of IPTV, and services like Hulu or YouTube TV are also legal IPTV services.
These legal IPTV services respect the regulations and have bought the rights allowing them to broadcast multimedia content on the Internet. These services can be used with a paid subscription.

Legal IPTV should not be confused with IPTV piracy.

What is illegal IPTV ?

Illegal IPTV is sold by resellers who pirate signals transmitted by TV channels and make it available to others. These resellers do not own any rights.
As pirate resellers do not have to pay for the rights, this explains the low price of illegal IPTV.

How can you tell if an offer is legal or not?

  • In general, prices should be a warning. An IPTV subscription often costs very little – about ten euros or dollars per month for several hundred channels. An equivalent legal offer  would probably cost 5 to 10 times more. Some illegal services are even free.
  • Sometimes a payment in bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies is required, which is probably the most obvious marker of illegality.
  • An offer including a very large number of international channels is a definite red flag (the regional lock-in means that most of the time the legal IPTV offers are limited)
  • Many aggressive pop-ups on the site are also a red flag
  • No headquarters address is always a strong indication of the illegality of an offer, or a head office located in countries where illegal Ip Tv is tolerated or hardly punished (Northern Africa or Central Asian countries for instance)

What are the risks of illegal IPTV ?

Technical risks

Any use of a pirate service always involves technical risks. The risk of viruses or of someone collecting your personal data is very present with illegal IPTV.

Financial risks

To pay, you have to communicate your financial details.

  • They can be stolen, and used maliciously.
  • It is also possible that the service sold is not what you think you bought.

Since the headquarters of companies offering illegal Ip Tv are often located in countries with which it is difficult to take legal action, and that the service you bought is illegal anyway, you won’t be able to contest anything.

Legal risks

Different countries have different regulations so the legal risk will vary.

  • In France, ARCOM  monitors and punishes the use of illegal IPTV services.
  • The UK punishes illegal Ip Tv based on the Digital Economy Act 2017.
  • The United States relies on the famous Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

In most countries, the user of an illegal service can be charged for complicity and can be prosecuted – using illegal IPTV is thus not different from illegal downloading and streaming.

The reseller is always legally responsible;  pirate IPTV is an obvious violation of intellectual property rights.

Some lawyers are also starting to look at laws about counterfeited products and unfair competition to take actions against these resellers.

If it's illegal, why are there so many offers ?

On sites like Kijiji, the ads are countless. The company does not control the ads upstream, which allows many resellers to create ads for illegal services.
If the ad is reported, Kijiji will remove it (after 24 hours), but nothing will stop the user from creating a new one. Even if a user is banned, he can easily recreate an account on the platform, the process is extremely simple and fast.

On eBay, the ads are filtered upstream, so they are less numerous. However, the filter is not perfect and the site continues to publish ads for illegal IPTV services.

Concerning Facebook groups

  • many of them are located in countries where the legislation on illegal IPTV is very lax or even non-existent (such as the Maghreb countries where legal IPTV does not exist).
  • Their descriptions are also quite vague and the groups are meant to be “IPTV discussion” groups, for example.
  • Since IPTV is a technology, it is difficult to denounce the groups with these kinds of titles.
  • Most of the sales are indeed done by private messages.

Other illegal IPTV ads can be found on the Facebook Marketplace. Facebook does do not allow this kind of ads, but they are not filtered beforehand and therefore they often elude Facebook’s vigilance.

Nevertheless, if the groups and posts published on the marketplace are reported to Facebook, they will be removed, but only of the network is monitored by the owner of the rights or an agent acting on their behalf.

We will be back on the 15th of May to explain how you can fight against IPTV resellers.