Speaking with TorrentFreak late last week, the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) clarified the stages behind Operation Creative, an ongoing campaign aimed at disrupting the activities of unauthorized content sites.
“At the first instance of a website being identified, evidenced and confirmed as providing copyright infringing content, the site owner is contacted by officers at the PIPCU and offered the opportunity to engage with the police, to correct their behavior and to begin to operate legitimately,” a spokesperson explained.
“In the contact sent to the website owners PIPCU clearly states that if a website fails to comply and engage with the police, then a variety of other tactical options may be used including; contacting the domain registrar to seek suspension of the site, disrupting advertising revenue and advert replacement.”
But while disruption is clearly on the agenda, the police can also rely on the traditional investigation and arrest process. Earlier this week, that’s exactly what they did.
Sometime on Monday morning, detectives from PIPCU carried out an arrest of a 26-year-old man in the UK. He was detained in York, England, a city located around four hours drive from PIPCU’s base in the City of London.
The man was arrested on suspicion of operating a number of streaming-related domains.
At the time of writing PIPCU has not responded to our requests for comment [Update: PIPCU comment below], but TF has discovered that earlier this week sports streaming domains BoxingGuru.co.uk, boxingguru.eu, boxingguru.tv and nutjob.eu were all suspended.
The sites currently redirect to a page carrying a statement indicating they are under investigation for online copyright infringement. Police have not yet publicly linked their closure with the arrest on Monday.
The logos of four key Operation Creative partners – BPI, FACT, IFPI and The Publishers Association – are displayed on the page although it seems highly likely that FACT were behind the recommendation to investigate the sites closed down this week.
All domains with ‘boxing’ in their titles linked to the world’s biggest boxing events. This would have put the sites on a collision course with FACT members including British Sky Broadcasting, BT Sport and cable provider Virgin Media, all of which generate revenue from that market.
Nutjob.eu linked to streams of a variety of sporting events including soccer, putting the site firmly in the cross-hairs of the powerful Premier League. Other links would certainly have proven unpopular with the NHL, NBA and ESPN.
While the sites certainly embedded videos and provided links to unauthorized content hosted elsewhere, their operator has always maintained he has nothing to do with placing the content online. Whether that holds true – or even if the police care at this stage – will be revealed as the investigation unfolds.
FACT did not immediately respond to our request for comment.
Update: “A 26 year old man was arrested on Monday 7 April by detectives from the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) in York, on suspicion of hosting a number of websites allowing people to illegally stream TV and films,” a PIPCU spokesperson told TF.
“A number of websites have been suspended and the suspect was taken to a local police station for questioning. The investigation is ongoing.”