Gone are the days where online piracy was an individual sharing illegal content with a few select “friends”.  Today, online piracy is a highly sophisticated operation that often spans different countries and jurisdictions.  To be effective in fighting this continually growing threat requires a team of experts.

Pre-match build up

OTT piracy remains the biggest threat facing pay-media operators and content rights holders.  Illegal supply of premium content, especially live events such as soccer is driving this increase.

Just like the war against drugs, the real impact comes from removing the source of the supply: removing the drug lords and putting their operations out of business.  Although important, only taking a dealer off a street corner unfortunately will not stem the supply of narcotics.  The same is true in the online piracy world.  Pirate organizations are well-resourced, highly complex networks; often bringing together people from across the world to commit criminal activities.  To be successful, it is these organizations that need to be closed down.

Match ready

Let me share a recently publicized achievement to highlight what is involved to be successful.  After a large-scale year-long investigation eight individuals were arrested for the illegal distribution of 1,000 pay TV channels across two Internet Service Providers (ISPs) using IPTV technology. Watch the video to find out more about what was found at the scene.

The operation was a collaborative effort between Europol, Eurojust, Spanish specialized computers crimes prosecutors, Premier League and Irdeto. 12 locations were raided in Spain and Bulgaria.

As part of our work with the Premier League, the Irdeto cyber-services team was responsible for detecting the online piracy and undertaking key aspects of the investigative services to gather information and evidence.  This information led to 12 simultaneous raids in Spain and Bulgaria and the subsequent arrests.

Figure 1: Images provided by the Spanish police

Post-match analysis

As you can see to fight online piracy, you need more than technology alone.  Detecting online piracy is only one element of what’s needed in an end-to-end approach.  To stem the flow of illegal content, proactive services delivered by experienced investigators and analysts are essential to unmasking the real people behind the pirate organizations.

In my experience, the winning formula to fight online piracy requires a combination of:

  • State of the art forensic marking technologies which identify the source of pirated content and allow for its immediate shutdown.
  • Proactive enforcement and investigative services aimed at identifying and prosecuting the parties involved in large commercial streaming piracy networks.
  • Global partnerships with law enforcement, industry bodies and agencies as well as consumer and technology providers.

Online piracy is a growing industry wide problem.  And as this example shows, to be successful in fighting the pirates all the players in the ecosystem need to work together as a team.