Global task force established to tackle online sports piracy

Live sports streaming service DAZN and broadcaster beIN are backing a new global task force to crack down on sports piracy that is costing the industry tens of billions of dollars every year.

The new group will aim to identify and target sports piracy operations and will work with police and organisations such as Interpol and Europol to pursue enforcement actions to shut them down.

According to a study released by Synamedia, tackling global sports piracy could lead to an additional $28bn of annual revenue for the industry.

Many of the major sports events such as the world boxing championships and the Uefa Champions League final are heavily pirated on illegal streams.

The problem is growing worse as more international online services find ways around local rules on broadcasting.

However, there is often a cost even to use illegal broadcasts.

The industry study found more than half of sports fans watching pirate streams were paying for at least some of their illegal access, and many were willing to pay to switch to legitimate providers.

The task force will be run by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (Ace), a Los Angeles-based anti-piracy coalition.

It will co-ordinate Ace’s efforts to target sports piracy operations and work with law enforcement and other partners.

Working with beIN, Ace has already targeted several sports piracy rings in the past year, including the successful shutdown of a popular Morocco-based operation days before the Fifa World Cup in Qatar last year.

“Intellectual property theft of live sports content is an industry issue, negatively impacting all sports and sports fans and needs a global concerted effort to meaningfully tackle it,” said Shay Segev, DAZN’s chief executive.

Ed McCarthy, DAZN chief operations officer, said the task force would work with broadcasters and rights holders to pursue “criminal gangs who are damaging sport at all levels, often using fans’ credit cards and data for illegal purposes”.

It would also seek to challenge governments, regulators and blue-chip companies that facilitate the theft of content, he added.

Jan van Voorn, executive vice-president and head of Ace, said: “The addition of DAZN and the creation of the Ace sports piracy task force marks a turning point for Ace and confirms yet again that we are the essential partner to anyone who recognises the threat of piracy to their business.”

According to the Global Innovation Policy Center, overall content piracy could cost as much as $71bn annually in lost revenues. One-third of pirate sites also target consumers with malware, according to a report by the Digital Citizens Alliance.


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