‘Smart IPTV’ App Blocked By ISPs, Despite it Carrying Zero Illegal Streams

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Media player app Smart IPTV is available on Google Play from where over 500,000 users have downloaded it. As its name suggests, it can be directly installed on smart TVs, thanks to listings on the official LG and Samsung app stores. In Spain, ISPs have just started blocking access to Smart IPTV's official site on copyright grounds. For an app that contains no streams, period, a cynical move like this gains perfect cover under an administrative blocking scheme.

smart iptvIn a world where users can have their own ChatGPT-like AI instances up and running on their own PCs, in just a handful of minutes, for zero spend and completely legally, the app experience on smart TVs rarely fails to disappoint.

Yet when smart TV users somehow manage to clunk their way through, say, LG’s menus, and then avoid the avalanche of distractions that exist purely to break their will, only disappointment lies ahead for the IPTV-curious.

If, against all odds, they find an app that resembles the thing they actually searched for, the high probability of being presented with the app “Smart IPTV” is something thousands before them will attest to.

More Disappointment

It’s not that Smart IPTV is a poor product, it’s not. The fact that most of the time people have to pay to use it isn’t to blame either. The problem is the expectations of those who bought the software in the belief it contains illegal streams. It doesn’t, and that can be very disappointing.

Most likely due to the number of complaints from misinformed buyers, listings for the app on the LG, Samsung, and Google Play stores are now very clear: Smart IPTV does not provide access to playlists or streams, so don’t even ask.

LG TV App Storesmart iptv-lg

The reason for the confusion among prospective buyers isn’t immediately clear. Smart IPTV seems like it’s been around forever and at no point has anything stuck out as being especially misleading or offering any suggestion that more might be on offer.

Yet now, even those who purchased Smart IPTV in full knowledge it offered no content, are being disappointed too.

Smart IPTV Website Blocked in Spain

During the past few days, reports have surfaced indicating that the official website of Smart IPTV has been blocked by Spanish ISPs. Visitors to siptv.app are instead redirected to an alternative page displaying the following text:

“Contenido bloqueado por requerimiento de la Autoridad Competente, comunicado a esta Operadora”

When translated to English, the message reads: “Content blocked at the request of the Competent Authority, communicated to this Operator.

In common with many countries around the world, particularly in Europe, Spain has a site-blocking system that restricts access to sites and services deemed to infringe copyright. Some prominent cases receive publicity as they travel through the legal system, most notably when top tier football league LaLiga and its broadcasting partners obtain injunctions to block pirate IPTV services.

While Spain does put together a report every few months to show the extent of blocking in the country, its usefulness is limited to a review of blocking already in place. As a tool to explain what is happening now, much less why a site or service was deemed infringing, the report is effectively useless.

As a result, which company declared the Smart IPTV app as copyright-infringing is unknown. What we can do, if only as a thought exercise, is use existing information to establish the most likely candidate based on motivation and past statements.

LaLiga – Who Else?

When it comes to blocking measures, especially those related to pirate IPTV, no rightsholders anywhere in the world are more aggressive than those behind the most popular football leagues.

The Premier League (England), Serie A (Italy) and LaLiga (Spain) are widely considered to be the leading proponents of blocking measures. Through a basic process of elimination, LaLiga is the only entity from the three likely to have targeted Smart IPTV in Spain, but there are more compelling reasons than simply being an aggressive blocking proponent in a specific geographic area.

In a 2022 submission to a then-upcoming edition of the European Commission’s Counterfeiting and Piracy Watchlist, LaLiga submitted a list of apps that, from a technical perspective, could play illegal streams of LaLiga football matches.

More accurately, the majority simply allowed the users of the apps to play content referenced in .M3U playlists that were not supplied with the apps themselves.

Terrifying Text Files From The 90s

Being able to play an .M3U playlist is a basic functionality offered by media players including VLC. For those sporting gray hair today, the same ‘technology’ was available in Winamp. Those who remember .M3U playlists starting to gain popularity in 1996 will be able to explain this incredible technology in a few words; it’s a text file containing locations where information can be found, on a hard drive (c:\playlists) or a network, mostly using a domain or IP address.

Instead of accusing the apps of infringement directly, LaLiga used broad strokes to paint a picture of infringing capability.

“It is important to note that all of these player applications allow the consumption of an innumerable amount of audiovisual contents such as sports, movies, series TV channels, etc. In other words, this problem affects the entire audiovisual and entertainment industry in general,” LaLiga added, carefully choosing its words.

As we highlighted at the time, LaLiga’s careful words were supported by carefully presented evidence, which in one case took an IPTV developer’s documentation and used it against them, after cropping the screenshot to disappear a line that began: “This app doesn’t contain any built-in channels…”

Again, we must reiterate that Spain’s blocking mechanism fails to offer enough transparency to identify who is behind the blocking of Smart IPTV. This means that we cannot say with any certainty that LaLiga is actually behind the blockade, but we can offer a generalized conclusion.

Any system that allows participants to mark their own homework in relative secrecy, can never be fit for purpose when other people’s basic rights begin to suffer. The fundamental right to conduct a legal business throughout the Union, for example.

Blocking Began Around April 12

To find out more about recent events, TorrentFreak spoke with the owner of Smart IPTV.

“The website domains siptv.app and siptv.eu have been blocked at some of Spain’s ISPs since approx. 04/12. Some ISPs still allow access to the website,” he explains.

“I have not received any correspondence from the officials or ISPs, I only started receiving messages from angry users from Spain that they couldn’t access the website. I conversed with a couple of them and it turned out the blocking is on the domain level, where ISPs are redirecting using 451 HTTP error, which also threw SSL certificate errors for those using HTTPS.”

With the blocking clearly causing access and security issues, Smart IPTV’s owner says that blocking can be avoided using a VPN but for him, it’s “not a very good solution.”

Instead, he’s having to make modifications to his apps to mitigate the problems.

“Since the App is operating on the same domains [as the website], the only way to work around this is to release updates of the appropriate Apps on devices, which I have already submitted and waiting for approval from Apps Stores (this can take a while),” he explains.

“A manual Android install is already operating normally, confirmed by Spanish users. The problem is that older devices that won’t get the app update (I am talking 10-year-old devices) will not be able to benefit from the app any longer.”

Of course, it’s likely that angry users who don’t understand the situation will blame the developer, then expect a new version of the app for free. But, as the MPA highlighted recently as it prepares its own proposals for blocking in the United States, blocking never, ever goes wrong.

As everyone else knows, that’s absolutely true, except for when it does.


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