Preemptive Blocking Orders Help Greece Tackle Sports Streaming Piracy

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A new amendment to Greece's copyright law makes it possible to block domain names and IP addresses of pirate live-streaming sources 24 hours before an event starts. The legislation mostly benefits sports rightsholders. Thus far, at least 362 domain names and 185 IP addresses have been blocked, stopping over 100,000 people from watching pirated streams.

greece flagPirate site blocking was a novelty ten years ago, but today it’s common practice in many countries. This is also true for Greece, where the first domains were targeted in 2018.

These blocking requests are managed by the EDPPI, a special commission at the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports that acts following complaints from rightsholders.

The Greek system is different from that of many other countries because it doesn’t involve court oversight. It’s an administrative procedure that allows copyright holders to swiftly request pirate site blockades, without the need for lengthy and costly legal proceedings.

Since the start of the program, copyright holders have submitted 46 blocking requests, targeting hundreds of domain names. This includes local pirate portals but also mainstream sites such as The Pirate Bay, 1337x, and YTS.

New Preemptive Blockades

As part of the regular procedure, a total of 485 domain names have been blocked so far. However, with help from an amendment to Greece’s copyright law, it is now possible to request blocking of “live” pirate streams as well.

The amendment grants EDPPI the power to issue preemptive live blocking orders against domain names and IP addresses that provide access to live broadcasts, such as sporting events.

These orders are sent to local ISPs at least 24 hours before the start of a live broadcast. These providers are then required to take swift action and risk a fine for each day they fail to comply.

This new amendment was passed a few months ago and has already resulted in a variety of complaints. Rightsholders of prominent sporting events such as the Champions League, Premier League, MotoGP, Formula 1, ATP, and the NBA.

In total, EDDPI has issued 21 live blocking decisions, ordering Greek ISPs to block at least 362 domain names and 185 IP addresses. These are mostly linked to streaming portals or unauthorized IPTV services.

Legal Options

Visitors who try to access one of the blocked domain names are now redirected to a custom landing page informing them that they’ve been blocked by EDDPI. At the same time, visitors are encouraged to look for legal alternatives.

Blocking Message (auto-translated)

greece blocked

The legal options are available on the “Enjoy Legal” website. This is part of the EU Intellectual Property Office’s Agorateka initiative which keeps track of all the authorized digital entertainment options in Europe.

These and other anti-piracy efforts were also shared with the U.S. Trade Representative this week. According to the Hellenic Copyright Organization, the landing page has been viewed more than 300,000 times since it launched on December 13, 2021.

“Since then, and until February 11, 2022, it has been displayed more than 330,000 times, reaching nearly 100,000 users. It is notable that the actual numbers of blockings are far greater, since the blocking page is not displayed in all instances,” the Copyright Organization writes.

Whether the preemptive blocking efforts will be effective in restricting live streaming piracy in the long term has yet to be seen but, thus far, rightsholders and the Greek authorities are pleased with the progress being made.

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