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Tackling Digital Piracy - Italian Football Ups its Game

Digital piracy and illegal streaming is rapidly increasing. Elite sport and European football are especially vulnerable as technology savvy pirates seek to secure content for free, circumventing broadcaster pay walls and subscription fee arrangements. Italy in particular,  has experienced significant piracy challenges. A reported 4.6 million Italians over the age of 15 illegally streamed at least one live sporting event over the course of 12 months. In football, approximately 18,000 illegal streams of Serie A games were reportedly blocked in the first 10 days of last season. 

With pressure on media rights fees already intensifying and broadcasters increasingly anxious to protect their expensively acquired exclusivity, rights owners must be far more pro-active in tackling piracy. In such an environment, it is good to see Serie A launching a comprehensive anti-piracy campaign for the 2019-20 season. The campaign will include a push for more expedited IPTV blocking times by ISPs and hosting sites, seek to raise awareness among fans and advocate more effective deterrents to piracy by urging the authorities to impose stricter penalties for violations.

The Serie A campaign and investment demonstrates the importance of adopting a joined up approach utilising, in a complementary way, innovative legal solutions, technological interventions, fan engagement/education and effective sanctions to combat piracy. Other event owners will be following the success of the campaign with interest, as no doubt will an increasingly exasperated broadcast community keen to protect their substantial investments in live rights.

Serie A, Italy’s top-tier soccer league, as part of its new campaign to tackle digital piracy and illegal streaming in the 2019-20 season, has released figures showing that in 2018, there were 22 million acts of digital piracy in the country relating to sporting events.

The research, aggregated by Pointer Brand Protection, a digital piracy enforcement agency, also claims that 60-per-cent of all pirated sporting events were soccer matches. The figure is a 90-per-cent increase from 2017.

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