Overbroad UEFA Takedown Notice Targets Virgin Media, Best Buy and DIRECTV

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European football organization UEFA takes piracy very seriously. The company uses a wide variety of anti-piracy strategies, which include sending DMCA notices to Google. While most reported URLs are indeed problematic, a recent request is clearly too broad, as it requests the removal of pages published by Virgin Media, Best Buy and DIRECTV.

uefa logoLike many other sports organizations, UEFA is gravely concerned about the continued rise of online streaming piracy.

Pirate IPTV and streaming services, in particular, are seen as a direct threat. One that has to be promptly dealt with.

Just how seriously UEFA takes this issue became apparent earlier this month, when the organization announced a new tender for anti-piracy services. This potential multi-million dollar contract revealed UEFA’s multi-faceted anti-piracy plans.

The prospective partner is expected to help with takedowns of live streams, investigating piracy apps, and helping out with blocking orders. However, plain old DMCA takedown notices to third-party intermediaries such as Google are also covered. This prompted us to take a look at UEFA’s current anti-piracy partners.

According to Google’s Transparency Report, the organization works with NetResult, MarkMonitor and Pointer Brand Protection. Together, these have flagged tens of thousands of URLs, most of which indeed point to infringing material.

Overbroad DMCA Notice

The most flagged domains are gfycat.com and footballia.net, which apparently hosted pirated images and clips. However, the websites of pirate IPTV services are targeted as well. This is where things went horribly wrong recently.

When looking through Google’s report we found a notice NetResult sent on behalf of UEFA. The notice claims to target “illegal IPTV services” that share “UEFA audio-visual content without permission.”

uefa iptv notice

And indeed, it lists nearly a thousand fishy-looking IPTV vendors but also some premium brands that are not infringing at all.

The takedown notice includes the official shop page from the British telco Virgin Media, for example, as well a channel listing from the American broadcast provider DIRECTV.

virgin flagged

UEFA also singles out a search for “android TV box” on the site of retailer Best Buy, Brightcove’s streaming service Play TV, the Disney-owned media company Star TV, and a customer help page from UK broadcaster Sky.

Infringing CBD and Hemp Shop?

We haven’t researched all reported domains in detail, so there may be more errors. For example, this site that sells CBD and other hemp products doesn’t appear to infringe on any UEFA content, but another domain with a similar name may be problematic.

When UEFA released its anti-piracy tender the organization specifically said that it wants to minimize ‘false positives.’ However, these examples show that there is still some progress to be made.

These occasional errors can have serious consequences as Google might remove these pages from its search results. In this case, however, the search engine caught the mistakes before they were processed.


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