With the Premier League season underway, the English football league is cracking down on the illegal streaming of its matches by bolstering its legal team, blocking pirated feeds and launching private prosecutions, according to the Financial Times. Premier League general counsel, Kevin Plumb, told the publication that piracy’s online evolution forced the competition to assemble an internal team of lawyers, investigators and “content protection analysts” to combat the problem.
Last year, Premier League blocked over 600,000 illegal live streams.
“We don’t underestimate [the pirates],” Plumb told Financial Times. “They’re really sophisticated now. There is always a challenge with finding people online.”
Some might argue that battling pirates, as pervasive as they are, is wasted energy. Jail time, like the more than 30-year sentence handed down to Flawless IPTV in May after a private prosecution by Premier League, isn’t the deterrent officials think it is, according to Torrent Freak. But Premier League has a lot at stake with an upcoming auction for its UK rights, and the UK’s Intellectual Property Office estimating that 3.9 million people illegally watched live sports in February alone.
The Financial Times cited a YouGov Sport survey that said 40% of people who watch live matches illegally mainly do so because of how much it costs through proper channels. Those wanting to follow the Premier League’s matches legally would spend upwards of £70 a month for access to Sky Sports, TNT Sports and Amazon Prime Video.
Authorities continue to step up their efforts to stamp out pirates. Earlier this month, the UK High Court granted Sky an order that would stop piracy in real time. In addition, Italy passed a law in July that aims to stop illegal IPTV services in the country. Under the law, Italy’s communications and competitions regulator, AGCOM, would have the power to disable illegal channels within 30 minutes of issuing an order as well as block domain names and network traffic routed to IP addresses of the offending services. The law also prevents pirates from switching to a new address and hosting the same content.
Premier League wasn’t immediately available for comment.