The harsh reality is we can’t eradicate online piracy. But what we can do is make it as difficult as possible for the pirates. Without an effective supply chain a business will struggle to give consumers what they want. And that’s no different for the pirates!

Where would you go? The biggest, of course!
On a typical day, there are approximately 1.9million product listings for pirate OTT devices and services available for purchase through major online retailers. Unfortunately piracy is a lucrative business.

As you can see from the bar chart, the majority of these listings are found on Alibaba. This in itself is not surprising. The rise of illegal devices being manufactured in and distributed from China has contributed to an overall increase in pay media piracy. Naturally, the pirates would choose Alibaba – the Chinese company is the largest e-commerce platform in the world.


Protecting our customers 
It’s not just devices which are advertised through online retailers. Pirates also promote the content which is available via these devices as part of consumer package, as you can see from an example advert.


These adverts piqued the interest of our customers, both broadcasters and content rights holders who were concerned about breaches of their copyright. This led Irdeto to reach out to Alibaba to find a way to solve this problem together.

Partnering for success
By working together, Alibaba reconfirmed its commitment to anti-piracy initiatives on the Alibaba Group e-commerce platforms.

As part of the agreement, Irdeto conducted investigations into Alibaba advertisers that market and sell these pirate devices and notified Alibaba to have their advertisements removed. In just one month, over 5,000 online adverts for pirate devices were removed from 71 manufacturers and suppliers that offered access to content from Irdeto customers.

Rory O’Connor, VP Services summed up the importance of this, he said “Through our partnership with Alibaba, Irdeto is able to stop illegal devices at the point they are being sold and protect the revenues of pay media customers.”

Stronger together
The key to fighting online piracy is disruption; both from a supply chain and a user experience perspective. In my experience, the winning formula to do this 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.

OTT streaming piracy is a growing, pandemic problem affecting all global pay-TV operators, content rights holders and consumers. And when it comes to fighting online piracy – we need to work as a team!