Ahead of the Anthony Joshua vs. Alexander Povetkin World Heavyweight title fight this weekend, a number of industry executives have warned about the pitfalls of pirating the fight – especially when live streaming on social media channels.
Alongside this, as part of the continuing crackdown on illegal streaming Mr Justice Arnold, on September 20th, awarded Matchroom Sport Limited and Matchroom Boxing Limited a blocking order that will require UK Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block, in real time, servers that are hosting illegal live streams of its boxing events. Official streams of the events are aired exclusively on Sky Sports in the UK and Ireland.
The Order will take effect in time for bout on the night of September 22nd, and will be in place for an initial period of two years.
“This blocking order is a game-changer in our efforts to tackle piracy of our PPV and non PPV boxing events,” declared Steve Dawson, Group CEO Matchroom Sport. “It will allow us to quickly and effectively block and disrupt illegal broadcasts of our shows. The protection of the copyright in broadcasts of our events is hugely important to us and we are pleased that the Court has recognised this with the granting of this blocking Order.”
“We’ve seen how effective the Premier League blocking order has been in disrupting pirated streams of matches,” noted Matthew Hibbert, Head of Litigation, Sky. “The blocking order awarded to Matchroom will make illegal streams of boxing harder to find and less reliable to watch. People who try to stream Saturday’s fight illegally on social media, pirate sites or so called ‘Kodi boxes’ risk missing all the action and exposing themselves to harm.”
There were a number of illegal streams of the Joshua vs. Klitschko fight (April 2017) on Facebook with hundreds of thousands of viewers, including one which reached over 597,000 viewers, with the person who facilitated the stream being responsible for thousands of pounds in legal fees.
“Fans need to be aware of the illegalities of streaming,” warned Neil Parkes of law firm Foot Anstey. “Despite the excitement surrounding the fight, those wanting to stream the fight must be aware that it is illegal to share a stream of the fight, even if you have paid to watch it. Many of those who have illegally shared previous fights on social media have been subject to legal action and been required to pay thousands of pounds in legal costs – don’t become one of them”.
“Whether it’s a re-stream on social media, a piracy site, or using a device, box or stick connected to your TV, avoiding the official provider to access the fight is illegal,” advised Kieron Sharp, CEO of UK intellectual property protection organisation FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft). “FACT is leading the way in combatting digital piracy and working with PIPCU and industry to crackdown on illegal streaming and to hold those behind them accountable for their actions. It is getting harder and harder to watch live sport illegally and so boxing fans should be aware that if they were planning to watch the fight this way they are breaking the law.”
“Don’t let your eagerness to tune in make you commit a crime,” cautioned Detective Inspector Nick Court of the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit. “By using illegal streaming sites you can open yourself up to several risks; some set-top boxes do not go through rigorous electrical testing and are therefore at risk of catching fire or giving electric shocks. By using legitimate providers these risks can easily be avoided. Watch it live, watch it legally.”
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