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© 2009 Sports broadcast piracy: An overview David Price Head of Piracy Intelligence Envisional
© 2009 Sporting piracy on the internet The range of sports available for viewers to consume through pirated means on the internet is enormous. Sports broadcast piracy offers immediate, live, and usually free access to streams of matches, games, or events as they happen. Scale? 1,000,000+ viewers for most popular events. The legitimate sale of broadcast rights represents a major source of revenue to sports rights owners (SROs). A unique type of piracy: SROs have a single shot at maximising their revenue – at the moment that their event takes place. Digital piracy is therefore one of the most important threats facing sports rights owners today. SROs are facing a difficult challenge and often find themselves ill-equipped to respond given current legal and technical means to tackle the problem.
© 2009 OECD Case Study Report into the digital piracy of sporting events written by Envisional and NetResult Prepared for the OECD Phase II Study on Digital Piracy Twenty-seven sporting organisations were represented Twelve sports from seven different countries Jointly written by Envisional and NetResult Envisional: Internet consultancy, providing research and intelligence to brand and content owners worldwide. Widely respected piracy intelligence department NetResult: Patrol internet for unauthorised streams of live sporting events Send takedown notices to providers to protect copyrighted content
© 2009 Example: Premier League One of the worlds most popular football leagues. Broadcast rights to the Premier League are sold to 207 countries. Widely distributed in Asia. Premier League often on subscription channels Fans looking to circumvent pay-TV services or obtain games not broadcast in their territory look to the internet. During the 2007-08 season, 177 unique web sites were located which contained or were connected to unauthorised live streams of PL football. Over 250,000 viewers were tracked watched one popular match.
© 2009 Three main venues for re-broadcasts P2PTV – peer to peer television services e.g., Sopcast, TVAnts free access signal is received via other users Dedicated web sites commonly require paid membership unicast transmission – direct from server to viewer Live UGC / video streaming web sites like YouTube but for live video e.g., Justin.tv, Mogulus, uStream free access user generated
© 2009 Method One: Peer to peer television services Mainly developed in China Heavily used in Asia for all types of live television (and increasingly, on-demand content) Used worldwide for sports re-broadcast Many services exist: PPLive PPStream UUSee Significant revenues and investment funding involved Two used primarily for sports: Sopcast and TVAnts Streams sent via peer to peer methods
© 2009 Peer to peer television services Viewers visit a third-party web site or blog to find links to streams for each match Link loads the video in a dedicated client. Quality usually good. Stream a few seconds behind live. Pirated audience in the hundreds of thousands for most popular matches
© 2009 Peer to peer television services What can be done? Employ a takedown service (e.g., NetResult) to locate and attempt takedown of infringing links Reactive – and there could be more than fifty individual streams for a single match Lag between stream starting and takedown: matches only last 90 minutes. P2P services may not cooperate Legal action against developers vast majority based in China is re-broadcasting illegal in China? Partnerships with services NBA have been successful in cooperation with PPLive But: rights negotiations very difficult May not suit football leagues
© 2009 Method Two: Dedicated / Unicast sites Sites specialise in single sport streams – e.g., football or Premier League streams Subscription cost varies, typically 10-20 Dedicated servers re-broadcast signals direct to the viewer (no P2P technology) Quality very good Sites top of typical Google searches for watch Premier League or free Premier League Similar issues face all other major sporting organisations
© 2009 Dedicated / Unicast sites What can be done? Investigation of owners / hosts / servers Often difficult to track individuals behind web sites Costly to take legal action if and when individuals located in two cases, the owners of sites targeted by PL moved abroad Sites themselves can simply move location e.g., footballon.net – owners served with court action. Closed the site. Re-opened at footballon.info premiershiplive.net – site re-located to Ukraine
© 2009 UGC sites (user generated content) Like YouTube but for live video Justin.tv / Mogulus / uStream – popular over the last 18 months Fans stream content for others to access Simple to do with current technology Sites abide by DMCA: Will take down infringing content once notified Believe they are not liable for infringements committed by users Takedowns are reactive and may not occur before the match is finished
© 2009 UGC sites What can be done? Persistent programs of takedowns Major legal action in progress against YouTube over highlights – likely to set a precedent on the applicability of the DMCA to such sites But prospects do not look good – video hosting site Veoh have won two court judgments concerning the DMCA in the last 12 months Negotiation / lobbying with host sites over filtering
© 2009 Summary The primary value of a sporting event is at the point it is broadcast. Protecting that broadcast is vital to maximising revenue and safeguarding the existence of many sporting organisations. Piracy already enters into broadcast rights negotiations for SROs. The internet has provided a wide range of methods for an increasing number of users to access those broadcasts for free and without any compensation going to the Premier League. New methods (e.g., Justin.tv) can appear almost without warning. There are no tools which enable sporting organisations to take action effectively and comprehensively to protect their content. Much of their effort is necessarily reactive and dependent on the compliance of host sites.
© 2009 Future direction? Focus on the major facilitators e.g., MLB persuaded SopCast to prevent streams of their games going online after vigorous rights enforcement and negotiations Increased governmental lobbying aimed at persuading ISPs to take some responsibility – perhaps to block certain sites or protocols Continued legal action against commercial operators Some methods exist to combat piracy but maintaining any kind of grip requires knowledge, intelligence, and significant resource.
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