Advanced Television

39 investigated in Italy for pay-TV piracy

September 26, 2011

From Branislav Pekic in Rome

Thirty-nine people are under investigation for computer fraud and violations of copyright law, following an operation to combat piracy against Italian pay-TV operators Mediaset Premium and Sky Italia, as well as conditional access provider Nagravision, performed by the Communications Police.

The suspects, 28 of them residents in the Lazio region, 7 in Sicily, 3 in Piedmont, and one in Emilia Romagna, are all owners of businesses. In practice, the defendants used the card-sharing system and software, to distribute, via the Internet, the access codes enabling illegal viewing of Mediaset Premium and Sky Italia by interested Internet users who, in turn, paid directly to the pirates a lower subscription than the legitimate license fees.

Certain web sites offered “parallel” pay-TV packages, marketing software specifically configured to receive the decryption keys from the “pirate” server. Alternatively, the pirates provided decoders already configured for the reception of conditional access programs, such as sports and HD movies, for a pre-set and variable time period.

Besides seizing computer equipment and documents, the investigation has also helped the police to reconstruct the pieces of a pyramid selling scheme with international connections especially in Switzerland and Germany.

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