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In our last article, we saw that illegal IPTV promises you an access to hundreds of TV channels, thousands of movies and series and sports events, on demand, for a few dozen euros per year. In this second part, we take a closer look at how IPTV works, and the possible solutions that can be explored to fight against its misdeeds.
Some customers who subscribe to television services resell and retransmit their communication signal to illegal IPTV services. The latter then create packages to resell access to individuals.
IPTV can be accessed with a basic Android box (which costs about 50 euros) similar to the classic boxes sold by TV operators, an APK file and a USB key. Subscriptions can be found on Alibaba, eBay, on a Reddit thread, a Facebook group or directly through a Google search.
Very often, the promise of these subscriptions is HD quality, equivalent to what legal subscriptions offer.
The process can be detected because of a slight delay of about thirty seconds. Pirate IPTV is “almost live”. The pirates exploit a flaw in the HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) system. The stream needs to be recompressed and rebroadcasted, which explains this slight delay.
Despite the difficulty in assessing the exact size of an illegal market, the number of sites continues to grow; it is estimated, according to this European Union report, that approximately 4% of Europeans (13 million) use illegal IPTV services. This number is said to be steadily increasing. In 2018, according to the same report, this pirate activity is supposed to have generated 1 billion in revenue – a benefit lost for legal services.
It is therefore essential to find solutions to fight against this relatively new form of piracy. The already substantial loss of income for rights holders will only increase if no measures are taken.
To fight against illegal IPTV, the first step is to monitor the web and remove illegal ads on various resale, auction and classified ads sites (eBay, Facebook marketplace, Kijiji; Aliexpress…).
The auction site eBay is an interesting case. The site did not filter its ads until a year ago; it does filter some of them now. The size of the illegal IPTV resale market , the various legal qualifications – of counterfeiting and intellectual property infringement – that have been applied in Europe to illegal IPTV (whether for reselling boxes or subscriptions), and the numerous takedown requests made by anti-piracy companies have contributed to a much more thorough filtering upstream, and to a noticeable decrease in the number of ads that are actually published.
In this case, the work of the anti-piracy companies and the evolution of the legislation have led to a decrease in the number of online offers on eBay.
This observation, however, only works for eBay – the offer is still plethoric on other sites – especially Facebook’s Marketplace.
Another solution, which was first applied in Europe and is now arriving to Northern America is to demand that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) block specific IP addresses.
Of course, many internet users know that there are easy ways to bypass IP blocking. Big IPTV networks also simply change their IP addresses regularly. But not everyone knows the tools to override such a measure, or where to find relevant information when the IP changes.
On the other hand, this multiplication of blocking, laws, lawsuits and jurisprudence allows the public to understand how illegal the resale, use and possession of IPTV equipment and services is, and how much it hurts the legal resellers.
Even if blocking is a measure that can limit the expansion of IPTV, arresting and judging the leaders of these big pirate networks remains essential.
In Europe, Europol enables takedowns by allowing national police forces to cooperate, facilitating the exchange of information, and acting as a coordinator the financial part of the investigation.
In June 2020, Europol helped dismantle a large network that was illegally distributing content in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The pirates were offering more than 40,000 TV channels, movies and shows illegally. The leaders of the network were arrested simultaneously in 4 countries (Spain, Germany, Sweden and Denmark) and 4.8 million euros were seized.
In November 2020, the European Union’s Judicial Cooperation Unit Eurojust announced that it had seized 5,500 servers in several countries belonging to a network that generated 10.7 million euros.
This type of action also helps to educate the public about the importance of IPTV
It is in the association between the upstream work of cybersecurity companies (detection and removal of ads), the international legislation, the ISPs and the police that will eventually reduce the economic impact of illegal IPTV.
If you have issues with illegal reselling and broadcasting of your IPTV services, don’t hesitate to contact us. We have been the Canadian leader for antipiracy and intellectual right protection for more than a decade, and we can help you fight against illegal IPTV content worldwide.
In our next article in June, we’ll see that your marketing expenses can sometimes directly benefits hackers.