After years of trying to contain the meteoric rise of illegal streaming sites and pirate IPTV services, rightsholders in Europe have seen enough.
In a call to action published today, more than 100 rightsholders, organizations, and powerful media groups threw down the gauntlet at the feet of the European Union, demanding immediate action to prevent piracy of all types of live events.
End Live Piracy Now
Given their experiences fighting illicit IPTV services over the past several years, it’s no surprise to see UEFA, Premier League, beIN, LaLiga, Serie A, Sky, and BT Sport among the campaign’s supporters. But the drive to ‘End Live Piracy Now’ is much broader than that.
The campaign has support from groups including the British Horseracing Authority, State Federation of Associations of Theatre and Dance, Danish Ensembles, Orchestras and Opera Institutions, through to the London Marathon, Cricket Australia and the Ryder Cup.
Of course, the usual suspects such as the MPA, Disney and the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance are signed up too, but they never appear in the same sentence as Swedish Performing Arts and the Association of Music Festivals.
So what’s the problem and what do they all want? And why is it so urgent?
Takedown Now, Removal Right Now, Block Right Now
In their big reveal today, the signatories call on the European Union to address piracy in general, but with a clear focus on piracy of live sports and similar entertainment events.
“Piracy has and continues to drain Europe’s creative and cultural ecosystems, sports and live performance sectors depriving workers and industries from billions in annual revenues and undermining the sustainability of an essential part of our social and economic fabric,” the call to action reads.
“We, the undersigned, call on the European Union to address the issue of piracy and particularly live content piracy. Piracy has and continues to drain Europe’s creative and cultural ecosystems, sports and live performance sectors depriving workers and industries from billions in annual revenues and undermining the sustainability of an essential part of our social and economic fabric.”
The groups are demanding that the European Commission delivers a legislative instrument to tackle live content piracy to show that there’s a firm commitment to address the problem with adequate measures. Specifically, they want a law that guarantees the removal and blocking of live streams immediately upon takedown notification, and before the live event itself terminates.
Stopping Live Piracy Helps Everyone
While no legislation is in a position to offer guarantees that something will or won’t happen, the signatories insist that they need effective tools if piracy networks are to be fought and ultimately disabled. This is important, and not only for live sports, they say.
Campaign supporters say that criminal networks incorporating a number of criminal operators are using piracy to launder gains from illegal activities. How dirty money is effectively laundered through yet more criminal activity isn’t addressed.
Nevertheless, ‘End Live Piracy Now’ says it’s Europe’s duty to protect and promote the creative and cultural workforce. It is also Europe’s responsibility to “preserve consumers from the risks tied to piracy.” These risks aren’t specifically detailed but in the months and weeks to come, it’s likely that malware will enter the equation, supported by a recent report generated by some of the companies taking part in this campaign.
“Any non-legislative instruments would be inadequate and insufficient to address the magnitude of the problem. Only a European wide regulation could provide an appropriate answer,” the coalition insists.
“We encourage the European Commission to act firmly and rapidly towards proposing such an instrument.”
Proposed Legislation Likely Targeted at Intermediaries
On September 7, stakeholders at an event at the European Parliament hosted by ACT, the Association of Commercial Television and Video on Demand Services in Europe, reportedly discussed the impact of live piracy.
It appears that the type of legislation being demanded (but yet not presented in public) will not target pirates directly. Instead, it will seek to apply maximum pressure to online intermediaries by increasing liability.
“The only effective tool is a legislative one. Non-legislative approaches allow intermediaries to continue to exploit existing ambiguities in the law and will not have the desired impact,” a brief from Geoffroy Didier MEP reads (pdf).
Campaign Organized by Pearle
On September 19, Performing Arts Employers Associations League Europe (Pearle) called for interested parties to support the ‘End Live Piracy Now’ initiative by signing a pledge of support before October 1.
“The aim is to add a new European legislative instrument to protect online events from piracy to the 2023 work programme of the European Commission,” Pearle’s announcement reads.
Upon signing, organizations were encouraged to address pledges to their respective culture ministers and if they also expressed support for the campaign, Pearle said that they could be added to the list before it was sent to EC President Von der Leyen.
The call to action can be found here (pdf) and the signatories are listed below
A+E Networks EMEA
AMC Networks International
Asociación clubes baloncesto
Asociaţia Română de Comunicaţii Audiovizuale
Association of Bulgarian Broadcasters
Association of Commercial Television and Video on Demand Services in Europe
Association of Danish ensembles, orchestras and opera institutions
Association of music festivals
Association of the Professional theatres in the Czech Republic
Association professionnelle des régies publicitaires TV et radio
Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance
Australian Football League
British Horseracing Authority
Bulgarian Association of employers in Culture
Central European Media Enterprises
Confindustria Radio Televisioni
Deutsche Fussball Liga
England and Wales Cricket Board
English Football League
European Arenas Association
European Professional Club Rugby
Federation Equestre Internationale
Fédération Française de Rugby
Fédération Française de Tennis
Federazione per la Tutela delle Industrie dei Contenuti Audiovisivi e Multimediali
Global Cycling Network
Guinness Six Nations
Indian Premier League
International Cricket Council
International Netball Federation
International Paralympic Committee
International Tennis Federation
KIGEiT – Krajowa Izba Gospodarcza Elektroniki i Telekomunikacji
Ladies European Tour
Ligue de Football Professionnel
Motion Picture Association EMEA
News Media Europe
Nova Broadcasting Group
Nova Greece (Wind)
Nova TV Croatia
Pearle* Live Performance Europe
Roland Garros Paris
Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews
Rugby Football League
Rugby World Cup
Scottish Professional Football League
Speedway Great Britain
Sport Integrity Global Alliance
Sports Rights Owners Coalition
State Federation of Associations of Theatre and Dance production enterprises
Swedish Performing Arts
Syndicat national du spectacle musical et de variété
The British Golf Championship
The Championships Wimbledon
The European VOD Coalition
The Football Association
The Lawn Tennis Association
The Walt Disney Company
UNI Global Union Europa – Media, Entertainment & Arts
Union Internationale des Cinémas
UTECA – Televisión Comercial en Abierto
VAUNET – Verband Privater Medien
Verband Österreichischer Privatsender
Warner Brothers Discovery Sports
Women’s Tennis Association
World Federation of Advertisers
ZPPM Lewiatan – Związek Pracodawców Prywatnych Mediów Lewiatan
Image credits: Pixabay (anncapictures, mohamed_hassan)