Initial interventions took place in September 2020 and in December that year, authorities announced the takedown of a 50,000 user platform following an investigation carried out by Sky and football league Serie A.
Authorities Dismantle “500,000 Subscriber” Network
According to an announcement from the Milan Public Prosecutor’s Office, on Wednesday officers from the Guardia di Finanza executed warrants across Italy that dismantled a very large pirate IPTV network said to have serviced 500,000 customers.
The targeted network is described as being supported by a “complex technological infrastructure” operating at a national level to illegally supply pay TV channels to the public.
Authorities say they carried out searches in Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Campania and Calabria, targeting the homes of 20 suspects who in various ways were involved in the supply and distribution of illegal streams. All are under investigation for breaches of copyright law.
ISP and Stream Source Identified
Other than its obvious scale, the operation is particularly interesting given some of the identified targets. In Campania, authorities say they were able to identify the administrator of ‘CyberGroup’, a service well known in pirate IPTV circles for facilitating access to illegal streams. The Guardia di Finanza of Milan says that CyberGroup is a “real” internet service provider whose servers were used by a number of illegal IPTV services.
Also in Campania, authorities further identified an entity responsible for the management of payments relating to pirate Sky TV subscriptions. In Tuscany, a search was carried out against a suspect who reportedly used 50 mobile devices to illegally distribute Sky TV content.
Rightsholders and Anti-Piracy Groups Welcome The Action
Sky TV, one of the rightsholders affected by the illegal operation, was quick to praise the authorities.
“The Guardia di Finanza has Sky’s full support in its work to combat audiovisual piracy and we welcome today’s operation, the latest in a series of increasingly effective actions aimed at putting an end to this illegal phenomenon. Audiovisual piracy not only finances organized crime and adversely affects creative industries, but also poses real risks for end users,” the broadcaster said.
Federico Bagnoli Rossi, Secretary General of anti-piracy group FAPAV (Federation for the Protection of Audiovisual Contents and Multimedia) noted that the dismantling of the network will help legitimate content providers.
“The operation coordinated by the Milan Public Prosecutor’s Office and conducted by the Guardia di Finanza, to whom our applause and thanks go for the constant work carried out to protect audiovisual content, led to the dismantling of a complex criminal network operating at national level and dedicated to the illegal dissemination and sale of pirate subscriptions for the use of television content,” Rossi said.
“We once again thank the Police Forces and the competent Authorities for the work carried out which proves to be fundamental and decisive for protecting an industrial sector, such as the audiovisual one, fundamental for the economy and employment of our country.”