Piracy Shield IPTV Blocks Reportedly Hit Zenlayer CDN’s Innocent Customers

Home > Anti-Piracy > Site Blocking >

If initial reports coming out of Italy today are proven true, Italy's Piracy Shield system designed to block live sports piracy, is currently blocking Zenlayer CDN IP addresses and the innocent services reliant upon them. A claim that cloud services provider Cloud4C has been rendered inaccessible appears to be credible.

Logo piracy shieldThere’s no shortage of reasonable arguments that support the existence of a comprehensive anti-piracy system in Italy, capable of returning revenue to broadcasters, local football clubs, and rightsholders in general.

On the other side of the debate, consumers of pirate IPTV services argue that a virtual monopoly, in which competition isn’t allowed to exist, is the very reason pirate IPTV services became so popular in the first place.

In the middle of this chasm of differences are those who warned that the supposed solution to piracy of live sports – the much heralded Piracy Shield system – could end up causing collateral damage without proper checks and balances. However, a soft launch in December passed without incident and following Piracy Shield’s full launch late January, no significant controversies marred the automated blocking system’s first two weeks on the frontlines.

Rightsholders Open The Firehose

After a sensibly tentative start, last weekend saw Piracy Shield put through its toughest test yet, DDAY.it reported Monday. After previously being asked to block just a handful of IP addresses, over 400 IP addresses were requested last Saturday.

Why Piracy Shield crashed in response isn’t especially clear. DDAY.it, which appears to have an insider somewhere in the system, believes that thousands of simultaneous requests may have been too much for an underpowered server. That’s not impossible or even unlikely but for rightsholders who claim to be losing hundreds of millions of euros every year to piracy, failing to commit enough resources is completely avoidable.

Of more concern was a claim that the IP address of an unnamed CDN company in the UK had been added to the blocklist. Since CDN IP addresses may be in use by more than one service at a time, the risk of overblocking is obviously a concern. In this case, however, the block reportedly did its job without any collateral damage. The same may not be true for new blocks reported this morning.

Zenlayer CDN IP Addresses Reportedly Blocked

One of the notable aspects of the first Piracy Shield actions reported by regulator AGCOM, was the targeting of web-based pirate services rather than the less visible IPTV platforms causing most disruption in Italy. After so many IP addresses were targeted last weekend, it seems likely that recent targets were indeed IPTV streams and related infrastructure.

According to DDAY, however, blocks that targeted web-based movie streaming sites were also placed on the platform in recent days and that may not have gone exactly as planned.

“About ten IP addresses belonging to the Zenlayer CDN thus ended up among the blocks and this caused the blocking of absolutely legitimate services and sites that were distributed by the CDN itself,” the publication notes. “Cloud4C, a cloud provider, is unreachable from Italy and the same goes for the control panel of the [Zenlayer] CDN itself, which is also blocked.”

Establishing the existence of localized blocking from outside the affected territory isn’t always straightforward. However, an Italian user on Twitter soon confirmed that cloud4c.com could not be accessed from his connection.

cloud blocked

A TorrentFreak source also confirmed the domain was inaccessible from a connection supplied by Telecom Italia, Italy’s largest internet service provider. Checking local DNS server responses for the domain cloud4c.com produced inconsistent results during tests carried out earlier on Thursday.

Italy Downgrades Transparency

For years, AGCOM has published every rightsholder blocking request and then once a decision has been made, published the official response on its website for public scrutiny. It’s a transparent system that may ultimately help to hide entire websites but does so while opening up administrative aspects for public scrutiny.

With the introduction of Piracy Shield, decisions are still published, but it seems fairly obvious that information made available to the public represents a mere fraction of action behind the scenes. The image below (translated) shows every blocking order published thus far. Each contains a single domain, so it’s clear that at a minimum, hundreds of IP addresses are going unreported, with last weekend a prime example.

piracy shield orders

The biggest problem is that IP addresses make up the bulk of the blocking while also producing the most errors. These errors can be devastating for innocent parties that unwittingly end up as collateral damage. Yet with no open reporting, holding perpetrators to account – if only to improve the system – could prove all but impossible.

Any argument in favor of secrecy necessarily fails, since IPTV providers know before anyone else that their IP addresses are being blocked. That means those privy to the details of IP address blocking include AGCOM, rightsholders, ISPs, and pirate IPTV providers.

The only people kept in the dark are those who become collateral damage through no fault of their own.


Popular Posts
From 2 Years ago…