Premier League targets pirates, wants 'IP Tsar'

The English Premier League is planning an aggressive campaign to protect its intellectual property rights in an attempt to clamp down on rogue websites that stream football matches for nothing and pub landlords who broadcast foreign feeds, amid fears that they could damage its income from broadcasting rights.

Having recently recorded a surge in the number of people watching via websites that transmit live pictures from overseas broadcasters or allow users to share vision using ‘peer-to-peer’ video sites, the league is determined to push the issue up the political agenda.

Premier League lawyers want the government to crack down on copyright infringement by making internet service providers responsible for the actions of their subscribers, and appoint an ‘IP tsar’ to coordinate action across government.

The EPL chief executive, Richard Scudamore, has told the all-party IP group of MPs that the government needed to take a harder line and do more to implement the recommendations in a report on copyright by Andrew Gowers.

“The ISPs have got to take more responsibility,” said a Premier League lawyer. “We have sent over 700 cease-and-desist letters and had an 87 per cent success rate this season. (But) one of our problems is that often the sites reregister a domain name, using false names and addresses, and sign up with an ISP in a less protected country; 60 per cent of peer-to-peer activity has been coming out of China. ISPs have to take on a stronger role and have a better enforcement policy.”

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