The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) is the most active anti-piracy coalition, assisting enforcement efforts around the world.
The group is backed by prominent rightsholders such as beIN, Canal+, DAZN, Disney, Sky, Netflix, and Warner Bros, as it systematically hunts down key piracy players.
Through new partnerships and connections, ACE expanded its work in the MENA region last year. This includes Egypt, where the coalition tackled several large streaming piracy portals over the past months.
ACE’s large international member base is only part of its success. The anti-piracy group also puts a lot of time and effort into building relationships with authorities and law enforcement around the world. This is starting to bear fruits as well.
In Egypt, for example, we have witnessed a series of crackdowns on local pirate sites and services. It started last summer when various sports streaming sites including Yalla-Shoot.today, yalla-shoot.us, and Yallashoot-news.com were taken down. Several operators of these sites were arrested in the process.
In the months that followed, ACE helped Egyptian authorities pinpoint several other high-profile targets with millions of users each. These included MyCima, one of the largest pirate sites in the Middle East at the time, and more recently Movizland as well.
Three Piracy Rings Dismantled
This week, the anti-piracy alliance reports that it helped to dismantle three additional piracy rings. These ‘commercial-scale piracy operations’ were taken down by the police and the Egyptian Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The most recent action took place last week when the authorities arrested the operators of livehd7 and 3sktv in Kafr El-Sheikh, Egypt. The sites in question streamed sports events, TV episodes, and movies. The sites reportedly had millions of users with the operators earning close to a million dollars per month.
“I applaud the work of the Egyptian authorities in last week’s actions, during which they seized 54 infringing domains, as well as mobile phones, IT equipment and cash,” ACE’s boss Jan Van Voorn says, commenting on the news.
In addition to this recent action, ACE also notes that the Egylive.online operation was taken offline earlier this year, while the sports piracy ring fal3arda was taken out in January. These successes should act as a wake-up call for other piracy rings, Van Voorn warns.
“These three takedowns represent a warning to illegal operators—if you engage in piracy and make money, law enforcement will confiscate the money and your assets, so it’s not a winning game. We will continue to identify and act against the illegal broadcasting of live sports matches and other content.”
Work in Progress
TorrentFreak asked ACE for more details on the recent livehd7 and 3sktv takedowns, as it’s not clear which domains are targeted. At the time of writing, the most popular sites using these brands are still online.
ACE informs us that the latest enforcement actions are still a work in progress. The Alliance can’t share an overview of the targeted domain names yet, as it is still in the process of getting them signed over.
Based on Van Voorn’s earlier comments, we know that there are more than 50 domain names involved. This presumably includes the 3sktv.news and 3sktv.one domains, which remain online. Livehd7.net and livehd7.tv are definitely included, as these already point to ACE banners.
These enforcement efforts undoubtedly have some effect. Based on the responses on social media, many people are disappointed to see their favorite pirate streaming site offline. The actions may also spook some pirate site operators.
Just how effective these law enforcement actions are as a deterrent is unclear, however. Many people are still willing to take the risk, especially when there are millions of dollars to be made.
Over the past months, we have seen reincarnations of several pirate brands previously shut down by ACE. Brands such as Egybest, MyCima, Shahed4U, Yalla-Shoot and Yallakora all lived on, presumably under different operators but that is difficult to confirm.
These alternatives typically start as clones and copycats but can eventually become just as popular as the originals.
The same will likely happen in response to the recent actions. There are already several “Egylive” alternatives floating around, and the “fal3arda” brand also lives on.
ACE’s press release also illustrates how complex the problem is. Apparently, the group managed to take down the Yalla-Shoot.io copycat, which thrived after other Yalla-Shoots were taken down last year.
“We are pleased that ACE’s task force has succeeded in removing yalla-shoot.io which had been negatively impacting all content owners and putting consumers at considerable risk,” DAZN Group COO Ed McCarthy commented.
However, those who try to access this yalla-shoot.io domain name, will notice that it simply redirects to yet another Yalla-Shoot variant today. This means the whack-a-mole will continue, at least for now.
Update September 8: ACE sent us a list of all the domain names that were taken over.