Italian consumers’ love for pirate IPTV services and the alleged damage suffered by broadcasters and the country’s world-famous clubs at the hands of those services, have been on a collision course for some time.
Italy has operated an administrative pirate site-blocking program for years. It currently blocks around 3,200+ pirate domains, with telecoms regulator AGCOM sometimes issuing blocking instructions to ISPs within days of a rightsholder complaint.
Defending live sporting events from ubiquitous pirate IPTV streams demands a whole lot more, though. After gaining and maintaining momentum, alongside increasing political pressure, it seems likely that football clubs and broadcasters are about to collect.
Push For The Big Anti-Piracy Bill
By the middle of 2022, support for radical action to shut down the flow of pirate streams was building in Italy. Unprecedented blocking measures, new powers for telecoms regulator AGCOM, punishments for stream suppliers, even punishments for those in the telecoms sector who fail to block them, sat firmly on the table.
Working against the clock in December 2022, the new standards were laid out, one in particular. ISPs would be required to block pirate IPTV streams “without delay and in real time” most likely having been informed well in advance of what to shut down.
Anti-Piracy Bill Unanimously Approved
This week in the Chamber of Deputies, Italy’s lower house of parliament, the football and broadcasting industry-developed anti-piracy bill was unanimously waved through to the final.
If the bill meets with the approval of the Senate, as it almost certainly will, the new law will attempt to strangle the availability of pirate streams and punish suppliers and consumers of those that get through.
New powers bestowed upon AGCOM will see it rapidly respond to rightsholders’ complaints against all types of content, not just illegally streamed football matches.
AGCOM will be able to order the immediate shutdown of pirate IPTV streams and any associated platforms, and have internet service providers respond to those orders within 30 minutes. Search engines will be required to remove pirate platforms from their results.
That may be just the beginning for the telecoms regulator. Once the law is approved, an automated blocking system could be in place in just a few months, with the aim of blocking pirate IPTV streams almost instantaneously.
That type of system obviously can’t be built in just a few months, at least not from a standing start. Live IPTV blocking systems have been operating for several years, especially in the UK. Work in Italy is already underway.
Whether the positions are directly linked to developments in Italy is unclear, but the live IPTV blocking experts at anti-piracy company Friend MTS have been on quite the recruitment drive lately. From senior software engineers to automation, DevOps, and algorithm engineers, offers to swell the ranks have been numerous over recent weeks.
Italy Intends to Go Hard
According to official documentation (pdf), the bill seeks to punish anyone making illegal copies of any cinema, audiovisual, or publishing content (in whole or in part) with up to three years in prison and a fine of up to 15.5k euros.
If somehow the blocking mechanisms fail to do their job and pirate IPTV services aren’t driven out of business, people who subscribe to pirate TV packages will also face sanctions including fines of up to 5,000 euros.
AGCOM chief Massimiliano Capitanio seems pleased with progress thus far.
“Italy is the first country in Europe to challenge the digital mafia in this way,” he said, adding that Sky and Dazn will help fund additional staff at AGCOM.