In a substantial move against the rampant TV piracy business, the industry watchdog FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft) alongside Sky, recently joined forces with local police units to root out illegal IPTV service providers scattered across the UK.
This mission, stretching over three weeks, was laser-focused on halting the unauthorized broadcast of premium TV channels and movies, notably those under Sky’s banner.
The days unfolded with teams spanning out across various UK regions, identifying illegal IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) providers.
Armed with legal notices, they knocked on doors in Dorset, Cambridgeshire, the West Midlands, North Midlands, and Greater Manchester.
The IPTV operators were issued legal warnings either in person, by post, or via email, making them aware of their illegal activities and the potential legal repercussions.
The operation’s tally was telling. A total of 47 legal notices were distributed to the rogue IPTV providers, shedding light on the extent of illegal IPTV operations in the UK.
With the delivery of these notices, many illegal services were taken down, and their adverts were removed, showcasing the effectiveness of cease-and-desist notices in disrupting illegal IPTV operations.
A notable case was the arrest of a 32-year-old man from Ipswich by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU).
Despite a prior cease-and-desist notice from FACT for selling illegal IPTV subscriptions, he continued with his illegal services until a thorough investigation by FACT led to his arrest.
Illegal IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) refers to unauthorised streaming services that distribute television content over the Internet without the necessary rights or permissions from the content creators or owners.
Unlike legal streaming platforms like Netflix and Prime Video, which operate within the law, have licensing agreements with content providers, and ensure a secure viewing experience, illegal IPTV services often provide access to pirated content, which can expose users to legal repercussions due to copyright infringement.
Following the recent operation, Kieron Sharp, CEO at FACT, emphasised the risks associated with illegal IPTV services, such as malware exposure, data compromise, and identity theft:
“Consumers who pay for pirate services should also know that they are often funding serious organised crime groups.
“FACT and Sky remain committed to disrupting these criminal operations and protecting consumers from the many dangers of illegal streaming”.
IPTV Battle Heating Up
The fight against illegal streaming in the UK isn’t new. Several cases in the recent past underline the risks and repercussions associated with IPTV piracy.
Some notable instances from this year alone, include:
The Firestick Premier League Scheme: In a case that saw the intervention of the Premier League alongside other bodies, an illegal IPTV operation was dismantled.
This operation was found to be streaming Premier League football matches to tens of thousands of customers by using “jailbroken” apps on Amazon’s Fire TV devices.
IPTV Scammers Busted: In another significant case, individuals involved in an illegal IPTV operation that generated over £7 million were sentenced to a collective prison term of over 30 years.
This operation, which also illegally streamed Premier League matches, had over 50,000 customers and resellers, along with 30 employees.
The BT Sport Scheme: Mark Brockley from Liverpool ran an IPTV service called “Infinity Streams”, offering illegal streaming of BT Sport content.
Despite making over £237,000 from over 5,000 sales, Brockley’s operation was eventually busted, leading to a five-year jail sentence, although he remains at large
How To Identify Illegal IPTV Services
Identifying illegal IPTV sites and services can be a bit tricky as they often masquerade as legitimate ones – and the low prices can certainly look tempting.
However, there are certain red flags you can look out for. A primary indicator is the subscription fee – if it seems suspiciously low for the amount of content available, then you should be wary.
The legality of the content is another indicator. Illegal IPTV services often boast access to newly released movies or live sports events without proper licensing.
A quick check on the official websites of the content providers or a look at the list of official broadcasters for live events (such as TNT Sports, Sky Sports, etc.) can help determine the legality of the service.
Additionally, legitimate streaming services have a professional appearance, clear terms of service, and a straightforward way to contact customer service, while illegal IPTV services may lack these elements.
Lastly, consider the payment methods. Legitimate services will provide standard payment options like credit cards or direct debits, while illegal IPTV services might require cryptocurrency payments or unknown 3rd party payment services.
As a rule of thumb – if the offer looks too good to be true (several expensive streaming services being offered for a low price under one service, expensive sports subscriptions that suddenly cost half, etc.) – then it probably IS too good to be true.
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