This Year’s ‘Anti-Piracy Award’ Goes to the EU Intellectual Property Office

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The Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance has announced the winner of its annual "Anti-Piracy Award." The honors go to a team at the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights, which is part of the EU Intellectual Property Office. Among other things, the EU team has helped to prioritize the online piracy problem throughout Europe.

EU CopyrightEvery year, the entertainment industries celebrate their stars in various award ceremonies.

From the Oscars, through the Grammys, to the Emmys, there’s no shortage of spotlights for the finest performers.

There is even an award for the best anti-piracy achievements. While it’s not as established as the aforementioned accolades, the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA) praises those who protect the entertainment industries with its annual “Anti-Piracy Awards”.

The group, which counts prominent media players such as BT, Canal+, Fox Networks, Irdeto, La Liga, Premier League and Sky among its members, launched this initiative three years ago.

And The Award Goes To….

The first winner was the Spanish police’s anti-piracy unit, which was followed by a Chief Inspector on the Spanish National Police in 2019, and then Italian law enforcement last year. These all helped to shut down illegal IPTV services and other piracy operations.

This year, the honors don’t go to Spain or Italy. AAPA handed the award to the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO). Specifically, the award goes to the Enforcement and SME Service team at the Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights, which is led by Blanca Arteche.

EUIPO’s achievements were not as visible to the general public as those of the Italian and Spanish police and they didn’t directly result in the shutdown of any high-profile piracy networks or services. Instead, the EU body paved the road for future enforcement efforts.

More Effective Anti-Piracy Enforcement

Among other things, EUIPO’s team helped raise awareness to get online piracy reinstated as part of the European Multidisciplinary Platform Against Criminal Threats (EMPACT). This puts the piracy problem higher on the law enforcement agenda in several European countries.

“Had the campaign been unsuccessful IP crime would have remained in the law enforcement wilderness until 2025 at least,” AAPA notes.

According to AAPA’s Executive Vice President Sheila Cassells, Blanca Arteche’s team at the EU Observatory played an important role in bringing various stakeholders together. And with piracy and other IP crime being part of the broader international fight against organized crime again, future enforcement efforts can be more effective.

“This is a very successful outcome as it means there is money and other resources to take on operations, provide training, etc. to tackle audiovisual piracy – and countries recognise the importance of doing so,” Cassells says.

‘Operation Blackout’ Awards

In addition to the main award, the anti-piracy coalition also handed out special recognition awards to several Italian law enforcement people, who played a crucial role in Operation Black Out which shut down the largest pirate IPTV in the country.

Operation Blackout, which was carried out last spring, involved over 200 specialists across 11 regional divisions of Italy’s Postal Police. The IPTV network was reportedly responsible for 80 percent of illegal IPTV supply in the country and generated around 15 million euros in monthly revenue.

“We are delighted to recognize the commitment and success of the Polizia Postale e delle Comunicazioni in blocking access to such a major illegal IPTV network,” AAPA’s Co-President Mark Mulready comments.

“The number of specialists and regions involved demonstrates the organizational and technical complexities involved in fighting such illicit activities which are increasingly accessible through social media networks. Activities such as Operation Black Out send a clear message that piracy will not be tolerated.”


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