At the start of last year, a French bill went into effect that sanctioned the formation of a new regulatory body.
The old HADOPI anti-piracy outfit merged with the Higher Audiovisual Council, creating the Audiovisual and Digital Communication Regulatory Authority (Arcom).
Sports Piracy Crackdown
Along with this organizational change, Arcom received new anti-piracy powers. It can order online services to rapidly take down unlicensed streams of live sporting events, for example.
Eager to put the new law to work, sports organizations quickly began reporting infringing sites. These referrals were investigated by Arcom, which forwarded hundreds of blocking requests to Internet providers over subsequent months.
Arcom has published several updates to highlight the effectiveness of these measures. After six months, it reported that sports-related piracy was already cut in half.
New Anti-Piracy Agreement
This week, another major step was taken in the battle against piracy. Arcom announced that the four major Internet providers in France (Orange, Bouygues Télécom and SFR) have signed an agreement with the Association for the Protection of Sports Programs (APPS) to further streamline the process.
Details of the agreement are not being shared in public, but Arcom says the goal is to strengthen and facilitate anti-piracy measures to protect sporting events. In addition, the parties also reached an agreement on how the costs of blocking should be covered.
The French Telecoms Federation (FFTélécoms) welcomes the deal, which took more than a year to negotiate. Under the new terms, the roles and obligations of the parties are more clear.
“We are delighted to have reached an agreement. It will allow Internet access providers to benefit from a contractual and technical framework that facilitates the implementation of these blockades and ensures that rightsholders are even better protected against illegal piracy,” says FFTélécoms president Liza Bellulo.
The Federation also taps other online intermediaries, including search engines and hosting providers, arguing that they should also play a greater role in the battle against piracy.
“We now call for new agreements to be concluded by new players such as hosting providers and search engines in order to implement this ‘safety net’ throughout the digital ecosystem,” Bellulo notes.
Rightsholders are also pleased with the outcome, the sports protection association says. The deal will make anti-piracy efforts more efficient and able to adapt to modern forms of piracy that are less reliant on websites.
“This agreement will make it possible to accelerate and consolidate the fight against sports piracy, while leaving open the possibility of adapting it to the new forms of illegal access, notably IPTV services,” says APPS President Maxime Saada.
“Collectively, we will be able to better target illegal services that attack the pillar of sports financing, which are audiovisual rights.”
How IPTV services will be targeted is unknown, but it’s possible that instead of focusing on domain names, ISPs will block streaming server IP-addresses too. This is already common practice in other countries, such as the UK and Canada.
1,299 Domain Names
Arcom, meanwhile, takes the opportunity to highlight the successes of the past year. Through 85 referrals from sports companies and additional court rulings, a total of 1,299 domain names were blocked.
As mentioned earlier, half a year ago the anti-piracy agency already claimed that 50% of all sports piracy had evaporated. We haven’t seen any similar updates since, but at this rate, there won’t be any pirates left by the end of the year.
Plenty of challenges remain though. Arcom says that some people circumvent ISP blockades using VPNs or by changing their DNS servers. Those issues will be harder to root out.