Despite taking significant action to reduce all kinds of online piracy, Brazil remains on the United States Trade Representative’s ‘Watch List‘. Lack of effort doesn’t appear to be the problem, however.
The São Paulo Court of Justice ordered major ISPs to block file-hosting platform Mega in 2019, but within days the ruling was overturned. That didn’t matter too much though as much bigger things lay ahead.
Last year Brazil filed a criminal complaint against Yout.com, a stream-ripping site currently in a legal spat with the RIAA in the United States. The platform was blocked by ISPs and this June, Yout’s operator was offered a deal that would see him avoid prison but take on additional risks.
Brazilian authorities are currently immersed in Operation 404, a campaign to seriously disrupt the IPTV and web streaming piracy landscape. This year alone there have been multiple arrests, domain seizures, and claims that hundreds of apps have been taken down or blocked.
But with basics such as removing piracy apps from Google Play apparently still an issue, Brazil says its now ready to commit to a program of ISP blocking to prevent IPTV and other streaming-based piracy. In previous cases the courts were involved and while that might still be required initially, so-called ‘administrative blocking’ could be just around the corner.
Agencies Team Up to Streamline Blocking
The project is the work of ‘Ancine‘ (Agência Nacional do Cinema) and telecoms regulator Anatel (Agência Nacional de Telecomunicações). Both are administratively independent agencies, with the former operating under the supervision of Brazil’s Ministry of Culture and the latter operating under powers inherited from the Ministry of Communications.
Since 2018, Brazil’s Plano de Ação de Combate à Pirataria (Action Plan to Combat Piracy/PACP) has sought to counter the country’s piracy problems but with support from ABTA, the Brazilian Pay TV/Telecom Association (Associação Brasileira de Televisão por Assinatura), Ancine and Anatel want a rapid and streamlined ISP blocking system.
Commenting on the agency’s involvement in Operation 404, last month Anatel’s Superintendent of Inspection, Hermano Tercius, said that site-blocking had been taking place “in a judicial way” but a system without such complications would be better placed to combat piracy. Those sentiments have been around for some time but the pieces are now falling into place.
Blocking Program Formalized
During the Pay-TV Forum event in São Paulo last week, a joint Anatel/Anacine announcement revealed that the proposal had cleared Ancine’s technical department and been approved by its directors. From there it was received by Anatel, with Vice-President Moisés Queiroz confirming that following a consolidation process, things should move quickly.
“We are formalizing the technical cooperation agreement, which has already been approved by Ancine’s board, is now in Anatel’s technical area and will go up to the Board of Directors, where it will certainly be approved as well,” Queiroz said.
Ancine director Tiago Mafra dos Santos said that a strategy that takes advantage of the tools available to both regulatory agencies will prove most effective.
“Ancine cannot walk alone, and neither can Anatel. There are functions of both that compliment each other. There is no content distribution without going through telecommunications,” he said.
The details of the blocking program were not revealed but given that executives from Anatal will travel to Europe in September, that provides more than a nod towards the model they hope to emulate.
Portugal – The ‘Gold Standard’ in ISP Blocking
It’s not just the shared language that makes Portugal a destination for Anatel. Portugal’s administrative site-blocking scheme is operated with assistance from the Inspectorate General for Cultural Activities (IGAC) and is designed to deal with copyright complaints quickly and without judicial oversight.
Each month, anti-piracy group MAPiNET is able to report up to 100 websites to IGAC, which carries out an evaluation within 48 hours. Once approved for blocking, the list is sent local ISPs to implement a DNS blocking regime within another 48 hours. In 2018, the program was updated to deal with “live blocking”, i.e dealing with IPTV providers offering live sports and similar time-sensitive content.
This entirely voluntary system is supported by rightsholders, advertisers and trade associations, plus every major ISP in Portugal. It is viewed by rightsholders as a particularly effective system to reduce infringement and due to standardization, is both predictable and cheap, especially when compared with court processes that can turn out to be neither.
Anatel representatives will also travel to Spain where the country’s Sinde Law and voluntary arrangements facilitate administrative blocking. It’s a little early for certainties but it seems likely that rightsholders would prefer Brazil to follow the Portuguese model when blocking is implemented in 2023, as the current plan envisions.
WIPO – Advisory Committee on Enforcement
In the meantime, Brazil is one of four countries set to share its anti-piracy experiences during the fifteenth session of WIPO’s Advisory Committee on Enforcement which begins late August in Geneva.
A document made available in advance of the event features contributions from Eduardo Luiz Perfeito Carneiro, Head of Anti-Piracy at Ancine, and Brazil’s National Council for Combating Piracy and Intellectual Property Crimes (CNCP).
Summary of key points as follows (all in respect of Ancine activities):
- Full access to data held by federal government agencies
- Access to data held by movie and TV show companies on piracy activities
- Already blocked 1,000+ streaming sites (Operation 404)
- Assists police during the execution of search-and-seizure warrants
- 1.5 million illegal streaming devices seized in 2020-2021
- Some ‘illegal devices’ donated to schools, hospitals, police
- Since joining WIPO Alert, 300 pirate sites listed for advertising boycotts
- Brazil’s site blocking plans ‘inspired’ by blocking in the UK and Portugal
- Quick and Effective site blocking may be the only way to contain piracy
The WIPO document is available here (pdf)