Payment investigation and disruption: A powerful weapon to combat piracy 

Content is the heart of the video entertainment industry. That is why content owners and service providers want to protect this valuable asset at all costs. Unfortunately, pirates can also sense this immense value. As long as premium content is still well-received by audiences, pirates will constantly find ways to steal and distribute it illegally.

Preventing this from happening, however, is not and will never be an easy task. Pirates are becoming more sophisticated and challenging to control. So the time has come to call for a cross-industry commitment to combat piracy.

What drives the rapid growth of pirate services? 

Today’s piracy extends beyond small hacks that gain unauthorized access to premium content. It is now a form of organized crime! Piracy services are increasingly successful in presenting themselves as legitimate businesses and winning the trust of audiences. In addition to offering the most recent and high-quality content, they also utilize multiple well-known payment provider services, such as bank transfers, credit card operators, digital payment processors or cryptocurrency agents.

In our survey conducted in 2018, we examined 400 pirate Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) supplier sites and discovered that the majority openly promoted their payment options with reputable and legitimate payment institutions. In particular, Visa and MasterCard accounted for 21.6% and 21.3% respectively of all payment methods, with PayPal coming in at 14.7%, American Express at 9.4% and Discover at 7.0%.

Three years later, the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance’s study in 2021 showed that PayPal had taken the top spot with 17.3%, Mastercard was in second place with 14.7% of the market share and Visa was close behind with 14.1%. Although things have changed for the better, it does not seem to be enough.

The issue with this is that the appearance of such well-known brands not only makes it easier to handle payments but also increases consumer confidence in illicit services. This helps them build a veneer of authenticity and convince many unwary consumers to subscribe to their services. These illegal options are making an attractive offer that not many customers can refuse by offering a comparable user experience that appears legitimate at a lower cost.

What approach should we take? 

A more tech-savvy and sophisticated strategy is required to combat pirates and stop them from distributing premium content illegally. Third-party vendors who possibly inadvertently facilitate the pirate ecosystem, such as banking and financial institutions, should be included to create a comprehensive anti-piracy approach.

Subscriptions and advertising are how pirates generate money and here is where the industry must focus its efforts. It is therefore critical to disrupt and neutralize their business models as much as possible, leaving them to rely on fringe payment platforms or preferably no payment platforms whatsoever.

By cutting pirates off from using popular and legitimate payment supply-chain platforms, we make it increasingly difficult for them to convince or lure potential customers to subscribe to their services, limiting their ability to reach a larger consumer base.

How does the payment investigation and disruption solution work? 

There are some key elements that are part of a payment investigation and disruption framework, including:

  • Test purchase the piracy-enabling device, software application or hosted service, documenting the initial covert seller outreach and sales.
  • Research server IP addresses used for authentication, the delivery of streams and electronic program guides.
  • Collation, reporting and following up on any violations of the rules of the accepted payment platforms or schemes to the relevant acquirers, payment processors and/or scheme.
  • Escalate and enforce each of the relevant acquirers, payment processors and/or scheme as required during the execution of the service.
  • Follow up on actions with the relevant acquirers, payment processors and/or scheme to provide feedback or additional information, as necessary.
  • Report detailing the items above as well as the status and the result of the notice and takedown procedures.

Build a comprehensive anti-piracy strategy with us! 

With a strong, trusted network of financial institutions that Irdeto has established over the years, proving that infringements are no longer challenging. We can present irrefutable evidence of the legitimate payment processes that are being utilized to facilitate the fraudulent business.

Learn more about our Payment Investigation and Disruption solution. It is part of a broader end-to-end piracy approach. Our 5 step anti-piracy framework has you covered in the fight against pirates.

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