Few if any developed countries in the world can say they have conquered the pirate streaming problem. Unlicensed sites and piracy-configured set-top boxes are available almost everywhere, providing access to every movie, TV show and increasingly live TV channels too.
Taiwan is no outlier. In 2020, a report from the Asia Video Industry Association’s Coalition Against Piracy (CAP) revealed that 28% of consumers use devices that can stream pirated content. with those branded QBox, Ubox and EVPad proving the most popular.
The authorities want to reduce this trend but in recent days, those efforts have been undermined.
Pirating the Olympics
Ever since the Tokyo Olympics 2020 began, fans have been expressing frustration at not being able to watch events as they had done in the past.
In the UK, for example, the BBC had wall-to-wall coverage of London 2012 and Rio 2016 but this time around, licensing restrictions imposed by the International Olympic Committee mean that coverage has been drastically reduced and additional subscriptions are required.
Of course, these types of restrictions aren’t an issue for those with a pirate device to hand in any part of the world. In Taiwan, however, it’s not just regular citizens that have been viewing the games via unlicensed streaming services.
Sports League Boss Caught Using a Pirate Box
This week, Chen Chien-chou – the CEO of P.League+, Taiwan’s first professional basketball league – sparked controversy when he posted a picture of judoka Yang Yung-wei. According to Tarpei Times, the photograph was of content being streamed illegally via a UBox, one of the devices listed in the Coalition Against Piracy’s report.
In the first instance, Chen reportedly tried to say that a friend had taken the photo but images posted by his wife from their home also showed content being displayed on a Ubox device. On Sunday, Chen apologized but the damage had been done.
Chen is the person who negotiates P.League+ broadcasting rights with sports networks. Not only that, he has previously urged basketball fans to support his league by not using pirate devices. Pirate device use is not illegal according to Taiwan’s Intellectual Property Office but campaigns to get people to do the right thing certainly aren’t helped by this kind of news.
Former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu Allegedly Used Pirate Box
Also causing controversy are allegations that former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu used a pirate device to view the Olympics. His office denied that was the case, noting that he pays for content with a monthly subscription to Kbro network using a ‘sanitized’ Ubox, but that didn’t stop him from being criticized by officials yesterday.
According to Tarpei Times, Eric Chu and other public figures were condemned by lawmakers during a media briefing Wednesday for viewing Olympics content on pirate devices.
“It is tough to invest in and operate businesses related to the sports industry in Taiwan. People watch pirated programs by downloading them illegally and affect the revenues of companies that were willing to pay for authorized licensing and legal content,” DPP Legislator Chuang Ruei-hsiung said.
Another lawmaker disputed Chu’s claim that his box is legal.
“It looks bad for Chu, trying to deceive the public about his use of a Ubox,” Chen Po-wei said. “This is a man who has recently declared that he plans to run for KMT chairman, but he installs a Chinese-made device to watch pirated content, and other Chinese-produced programming.”
Olympic Copyright Issues on Instagram
Earlier this week, Jamaican Olympic champion Elaine Thompson-Herah reported that her Instagram account had been suspended because she had shared video clips of her wins in the 100 and 200 meters.
Instagram said the suspension was due to copyright claims filed by the International Olympic Committee but later said the account had been reinstated and confirmed the suspension had been a mistake.