Saturday 21 September 2019

Illegal streaming of Premier League soccer to be blocked before new season kicks off

Man City won the Premier League last season
Man City won the Premier League last season

Tim Healy

Irish people will find it much harder to locate illegal TV streams of live English Premier League football matches when the 2019/20 season kicks off next month.

Yesterday in the Commercial Court, the Football Association Premier League Ltd was granted Ireland's first order compelling internet service providers (ISPs) to block live streaming of matches.

The order is against Eircom/Eir, Sky Ireland, Sky Subscriber Services, Virgin Media Ireland and Vodafone Ireland. The ISPs were either supportive or neutral over the application, Mr Justice Robert Haughton was told.

Under the order, the content provided by the illegitimate servers or hosts, using streams from legal broadcast outlets, will be targeted in real time for disabling using the latest advances in technology.

It will be possible to block in one blow "unofficial streams across several platforms and apps such as on phones, computers and set-top boxes ".

The internet protocol addresses of the streaming hosts will be updated at least twice during match time so that the blocking can be enabled, said Jonathan Newman SC, for the Premier League company.

It would be possible to respond "within minutes" to the illegal streaming, he said.

The court was told similar blocking orders had been obtained last year in the UK where a court heard the problem of illegal streaming of the games had become ubiquitous. It was no longer just "a student on his couch with a laptop", but had become so overwhelming that the bulk of infringements came from people with "set-top boxes" plugged into TVs, counsel said.

The technology did not allow the identification of end users but the blocking technology was similar to that used when Ireland became the first jurisdiction to enable blocking of copyrighted music and films.

Mr Justice Haughton said he was satisfied to grant the order and noted from the UK case brought by the Premier League that the judge there said continued illegal streaming undermined the value of the football TV rights. If unchecked, it was likely to have an impact on returns for the football clubs and wider sporting community.

Irish Independent

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