In the latest in a series of actions against the rising tide of IPTV-related crimes in the UK, Scotland Police made two significant arrests last week.
The individuals aged 22 and 24, are believed to be key players in the distribution of illegal IPTV services, marking another step in the ongoing battle against digital piracy and illegal streaming.
Acting on intelligence, the two men were arrested in the town of Shotts, and subsequently charged. This operation is part of a broader effort to combat the rise of IPTV crimes, which involve unauthorised access to pay TV content.
Over the past year, there have been a series of arrests across the UK, highlighting the seriousness with which this issue is being addressed.
Despite these very public arrests, many still find it hard to identify illegal streaming services (see tips on that below).
Is IPTV Illegal?
The term “Internet Protocol Television” (IPTV) refers to the technology that delivers television content over the internet, rather than through traditional terrestrial, satellite, or cable TV formats.
In simpler terms, it’s the technology behind all streaming services and many legitimate services like Netflix, Disney+, and BBC iPlayer use this technology.
However, the term has also become somewhat synonymous with unauthorized services that operate via the internet or “jailbroken” devices, offering pirated premium TV channels, films, and live sports events without proper permissions or payments.
In the UK, the use and distribution of such unlicensed IPTV services are considered illegal.
These services often provide access to premium channels, pay-per-view events, or newly-released movies without requiring the correct, legal fees.
Legitimate streaming services typically charge extra for premium content or have specific agreements with content providers. Unauthorized services, on the other hand, bypass these agreements and payments, infringing on the rights of content creators and providers.
Therefore, while IPTV technology itself is not illegal, the unauthorized use and distribution of IPTV services to stream pirated content are illegal.
The Scotland IPTV Arrests
Last week, acting on intelligence, officers attended a property in Shotts, a town located in North Lanarkshire, Scotland.
The property was identified as a hub for the distribution of illegal IPTV services.
According to Police Scotland, two men were arrested on the spot and have subsequently been charged. A report detailing the arrests and the charges will be sent to the Procurator Fiscal, Scotland’s public prosecutor.
During the operation, officers seized computer hardware and technology believed to be instrumental in the illegal operation.
This equipment will be analysed by detectives to identify any further offences and to gain a deeper understanding of the operation’s scale.
The seizure of this equipment could potentially lead to the identification of other individuals involved in the illegal operation, further aiding the fight against IPTV crimes.
In the wake of the arrests, Police Scotland issued a warning to anyone using illegal IPTV services – they emphasised that these services are illegal and that profits from these services are often used to fund other crimes.
“Police Scotland will continue to work in partnership with others to tackle this type of crime.”
IPTV Crimes On The Rise In The UK
The rise of IPTV has brought with it a surge in illegal activities related to the technology.
In a historic court ruling earlier this year, five individuals responsible for one of the world’s largest illegal streaming networks were sentenced to a collective 30 years and seven months in prison.
The group, operating under the names Flawless, Shared VPS, and Optimal, reportedly generated in excess of £7 million in just five years, illegally streaming Premier League football games to tens of thousands of customers.
That case is believed to be the world’s most substantial prosecution for an illegal streaming network.
In another case earlier this year, the owner of an illegal IPTV service named “Infinity Streams,” was sentenced to five years in jail in his absence.
The man reportedly made £237,000 by selling subscriptions to his streaming service, which offered illegal streaming of BT Sport, including Premier League and UEFA Champions League matches.
The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) identified that he had made 5,251 sales with a total value of £237,058 between 2014 and 2019.
These cases highlight the serious nature of IPTV crimes and the lengths to which authorities are going to prosecute those involved.
The rise in IPTV crimes has led to a concerted effort from various organizations to bring down illegal streams and prosecute suppliers of illegal streaming services.
The Premier League, for instance, maintains one of the most comprehensive anti-piracy programmes globally and is committed to protecting the rights of creators and content owners.
As IPTV crimes continue to rise in the UK, it is clear that the authorities are taking a firm stance against this form of piracy.
The recent arrests in Scotland serve as a stark reminder of the serious consequences faced by those involved in the distribution of illegal IPTV services.
How To Identify Illegal IPTV Services
Identifying illegal IPTV services can be challenging, especially given the number of streaming options available today.
However, several red flags can help consumers distinguish between legal and illegal services.
One of the most obvious signs is the price. Illegal IPTV services often offer subscriptions at significantly lower prices than legitimate services.
If the price seems too good to be true, it may indicate that the service is operating unlawfully.
Additionally, unauthorized services may provide access to premium channels, pay-per-view events, or newly-released movies without requiring additional fees.
Legitimate streaming services typically charge extra for premium content (this mainly refers to newly releases films or premium pay-per-view sporting events).
Another sign is the quality of the service’s website and branding. Illegal IPTV providers often have poorly-designed websites with limited information, spelling errors, and low-quality images.
They might also lack proper branding or use logos from a multitude of well-known broadcasters without permission.
Furthermore, illicit IPTV services may request payment through untraceable or unconventional methods, such as cryptocurrencies or gift cards, to avoid detection by the authorities.
Always remember to do some research and check for online reviews or forum discussions about the IPTV service in question before subscribing.
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