After more than a decade and a half in existence, public pirate sites, services, and apps remain a thorn in the side of entertainment industry groups who are determined to close them down.
That trend continued last week when French anti-piracy group ALPA teamed up with police in the Bordeaux region to raid and arrest the founder and administrator of piracy service ARTV.
According to the anti-piracy group, the ARTV.watch website first appeared during April 2017 but quickly grew to become a significant source of streaming TV piracy. Every month the site had around 150,000 visitors and in less than eight months amassed 800,000 registered users.
“Artv.watch was a public site offering live access to 176 free and paid French TV channels that are members of ALPA: Canal + Group, M6 Group, TF1 Group, France Télévision Group, Paramount, Disney, and FOX. Other thematic and sports channels were broadcast,” an ALPA statement reads.
This significant offering was reportedly lucrative for the site’s operator. While probably best taken with a grain of salt, ALPA estimates the site generated around 3,000 euros per month from advertising revenue. That’s a decent amount for anyone but even more so when one learns that ARTV’s former operator is just 16 years old.
“ARTV.WATCH it’s over. ARTV is now closed for legal reasons. Thank you for your understanding! The site was indeed illegal,” a notice on the site now reads.
“Thank you all for this experience that I have acquired in this project. And thanks to you who have believed in me.”
Closure formalities aside, ARTV’s founder also has a message for anyone else considering launching a similar platform.
“Notice to anyone wanting to do a site of the same kind, I strongly advise against it. On the criminal side, the punishment can go up to three years of imprisonment and a 300,000 euro fine. If [individual] complaints of channels (or productions) are filed against you, it will be more complicated to determine,” ARTV’s owner warns.
ALPA says that in addition to closing down the site, ARTV’s owner also deactivated the site’s Android app, which had been available for download on Google Play. The anti-piracy group adds that this action against IPTV and live streaming was a first in France.
For anyone who speaks French, the 16-year-old has published a video on YouTube talking about his predicament.