“Insane” IPTV Blocking System “Will Solve Digital Piracy” But Not Yet

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Faced with warnings that the survival of top-tier football was at stake, in July lawmakers urgently signed off on tough legislation to block pirate IPTV services in Italy. On the first day of the new season this month, around 100 pirate service 'violations' were reportedly identified, but none were blocked. According to an inside source, Italy's "insane" blocking system isn't quite ready, but will "solve digital piracy" early October latest.

footballIt’s hard to say how many times the movie, music, and more recently live sports industries have survived imminent piracy-inflicted apocalypses. They have though, possibly since those issuing the warnings usually have ideas about how to prevent them.

More often the solution lies in new legislation that allows rightsholders to do something the law currently disallows. The proposals can be radical but to a background of industry X or Y disappearing overnight with the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, urgency is always part of the equation.

This June, as Italian lawmakers were preparing to pass radical IPTV blocking legislation, DAZN publicly urged lawmakers to speed up the process. DAZN reminded them that since piracy steals €800,000 from live sports every single day, live ‘dynamic’ nationwide blocking needed to be implemented without delay.

The law was passed on July 14 and telecoms regulator AGCOM later declared “perfect synchrony” with the measures going into force August 8, just 11 days before the start of the new Serie A football championship.

100 Pirate Services Identified, None Blocked

Articles in Italian media marked out August 8 as a day to remember. Not only would pirate IPTV services face sudden blocking, people who simply bought pirate IPTV packages risked a 5,000 euro fine under new law.

According to a report in La Repubblica, what actually happened on August 8 amounted to almost nothing at all. While the blocking system identified around “100 violations,” no pirate services or streams were blocked.

One explanation for the absence of blocking notes that the parties responsible for blocking are required to have a “technical roundtable” to finalize details before any blocking can take place. That’s accurate and also makes perfect sense; any overblocking would be a PR disaster. However, some fingers also point towards parliament for not passing the law sooner.

A less generous read suggests that most of the technical work should’ve preceded the blocking demands themselves, with tested capability guiding any permission to block. Some also argue that when parliament took an extra four weeks to pass the law, that was also another month to get things ready. Unfortunately, developing software without knowing the details up front rarely goes well and in any event, the delay is clearly going to be longer than four weeks.

Might Be Ready in October

Ultimately, the situation seems easily summed up; lawmakers delivered urgently and, for whatever reason, the blocking parties aren’t ready. La Repubblica reports that the technical table is scheduled for the first week of September, a month after the law came into force, and the results of that may be known “as early as the beginning of October.”

Or to express that in DAZN terminology: a minimum €48,000,000 delay.

Still, a source familiar with the so-called ‘anti-pezzotto’ blocking platform told Key4Biz that the delay is necessary, partially for security reasons.

Italy’s National Cybersecurity Agency (ACN) will reportedly beef up the system’s security because “it will certainly be subject to cyber-attacks commissioned by the criminals who manage illegal IPTVs.”

If that has already happened to similar blocking systems elsewhere in the world, nothing has been reported in public. That being said, it would make for controversial headlines if pirates suddenly acquired superior blocking capabilities than those being prepared for their rivals.

“The platform is insane and will solve digital piracy and will be used from late September/early October,” the Key4Biz source added.


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