Over the past three years, Brazil has worked hard to combat online piracy from various angles.
Spearheaded by ANCINE, the National Film Agency that falls under Brazil’s Ministry of Culture, “Operation 404” campaigns have led to numerous takedowns and arrests.
Streaming sites and services have been a focal point in this battle. Among other things, ANCINE helped to train inspection agents of the Federal Revenue Service and the Federal Highway Police to spot these devices so they can be seized or blocked from entering the county.
These efforts have been rather successful. In a recent update, ANCINE reports that 1.5 million illegal streaming devices were seized between 2020–2021. Together, these piracy boxes have an estimated value of USD 150 million.
Pirate Boxes become School Computers
A lot of these devices were destroyed, with the resulting waste ‘sustainably’ disposed of. However, the responsible authorities are also looking for more creative ways to reuse these pirate streaming boxes.
ANCINE reports that, with help from researchers, 800 seized streaming devices were repurposed as basic computers. This hardware was then donated to local schools.
“In an unprecedented partnership between the Federal Revenue Service and universities in the State of Minas Gerais, research teams are looking for ways to remove the offending features and reuse the equipment.
“In one project, seized illegal streaming devices were transformed into 800 computers that were subsequently donated to public schools for educational purposes,” ANCINE writes in an update.
Hospitals and Police Cars
Schools are not the only beneficiaries of seized hardware. Repurposed pirate streaming boxes have also found their way into Brazil’s public hospitals and even police cars.
“In other projects, the illegal equipment is being repurposed to monitor attendance at public hospitals, monitor cameras in police vehicles and control and identify pests in agribusiness, among other uses.”
ANCINE notes that with these creative solutions, formerly illegal devices are successfully reused for the benefit of society. This means that the public at large profits from the anti-piracy work as well.
While the recipients of the repurposed hardware are undoubtedly very pleased, the ultimate goal is to help copyright holders. And these activities are not just limited to seizures, shutdowns, and arrests.
The authorities are currently working to implement a broad administrative site blocking scheme, which aims to make the anti-piracy enforcement efforts even more poweful. By effectively bypassing the judicial system, Brazil plans to step up its blocking game.