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As EU Cracks Down on Illegal Sports Streams, Fans Not at Fault

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3 minutes

Earlier this year, the European Parliament adopted a proposal to combat the growing problem of illegal broadcasts of live sports events. “Unlike other sectors, most of the value of a sports event broadcast lies in the fact that it is live and most of that value is lost when the event ends,” the Parliament said.

Arguing that the first 30 minutes of an illegal stream are the most harmful, the streams need to be removed or disabled within a half hour time after being notified by a rights holder or certified “trusted flagger.”

Perhaps most interestingly though, the Parliament clarified who’s in the end responsible for illegal content circulating online: “Liability for the illegal broadcast of sporting events should lie with the providers of sports streams, and not with the fans or consumers.”

Streaming Providers Responsible

It also noted that copyright holders (i.e. rights owners) have an obligation to make sure that legal streaming services are widely accessible, and can easily be found online. 

Rights owners are increasingly expecting their distribution licensees to not only comply with performance requirements but also to be a partner in the fight against geo-piracy. As previously reported, rights holders who actively engage in, and support, anti-piracy measures can see both financial and reputational rewards.

Legal Subscriptions Could Add Billions in Revenue

On the other hand, a failure to act could be costly. 

In a study published last year, the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) found that in 2019 illegal TV streaming platforms within the EU drew 7.6 million subscriptions, generating an estimated revenue of €522 million ($637 million).

If legal streaming services had attracted the same number of subscriptions, it would have meant an annual increase in revenue for broadcasters of €3.4 billion. About 80% of rights owners’ revenue comes from broadcast rights, according to the EU Parliament.

Putting Geo-Pirates Out of Business

GeoComply, a global leader in geolocation compliance and fraud detection technology, has long recognized the cost and impacts of geo-piracy on the streaming ecosystem. It’s about protecting the value of premium content but also ensuring OTT broadcasters aren’t “leaking” content out of their contracted territory, which would put them in breach of their licensing agreements. 

As pirates are becoming more sophisticated in their spoofing attempts, so have we in our work to stop them. Our newly enhanced GeoGuard solution with its advanced fraud detection features has been recognized as the industry’s gold standard and used by broadcasters, studios, sports leagues and OTT providers worldwide to identify and block users trying to illegally access their geographically restricted content via a VPN or proxy.

Learn how you can stop illegal streams, geo-piracy and geolocation fraud in their tracks – and protect the value of your high-value content – with GeoGuard. Read our latest white paper, “The Next Generation of Content Protection: Moving Beyond IP for Location Verification.

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