Illegal streamers targeted in UK-wide initiative
August 12, 2021
By Colin Mann
In the past week, investigators from UK intellectual property protection organisation FACT and police officers from Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), West Yorkshire Police and Dyfed-Powys Police have visited addresses across the UK to serve Cease and Desist notices to individuals suspected of supplying illegal streaming services.
The initiative is aimed at preventing the illegal supply of IPTV streams, with investigators visiting homes in Essex, Hertfordshire, West Yorkshire and Pembrokeshire to serve notices informing suspects to cease any illegal activity with immediate effect.
FACT works with the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN) to gather intelligence on and disrupt organised crime groups (OCGs) associated with this illegal activity. This latest action targeted suspects who were promoting unauthorised access to premium television content, which affects broadcasters and rights owners in the UK and worldwide, causing financial harm to the industry and the economy. Whilst all the individuals visited were operating at a relatively low level, the initiative was aimed at preventing them from undertaking further criminal activity and deterring others from getting involved.
The effective partnership between law enforcement agencies, rights holders and the private sector allowed for this co-ordinated action, with more actions of a similar nature planned to take place. FACT will continue to monitor any ongoing offending and will take further action against persistent offenders.
“We employ a range of tactics to prevent the provision of illegal streaming” advises Kieron Sharp, Chief Executive of FACT. “Our continuous activity targets different elements of the global piracy landscape, with consideration given to the scale of the offending to ensure effective and proportionate action is taken.”
“By taking these measures we are sending a clear message. Piracy is fraud and anyone motivated by financial gain from doing this needs to know that this is a crime which will be taken seriously by Police.”
“I would like to thank the GAIN and all the Police units for their assistance in this initiative and look forward to further collaboration,” he concludes.
“This initiative looks to not only cease illegal activity with immediate effect, but also to prevent further crimes taking place,” advises Paul Sanders, GAIN coordinator at ERSOU. “GAIN is committed to ensuring that Government agencies and other partners work alongside the police to protect our communities from a wide range of criminality, and this activity is an example of our teams working collaboratively to disrupt and dismantle those involved in illicit activities.”
“It’s important to remember that the public may be risking their personal and financial information by engaging with illegal services, and we will continue to support FACT in their endeavours to prevent illegal content provision.”
“People may not think they are causing harm by selling streaming services for a quick penny but if you choose to do so, you are breaking the law and there will be consequences when you are caught.”
“It was good to support FACT in West Yorkshire and we hope this collaboration will send out a clear message to those who think they can get away with it. We will find you,” he warns.
This initiative is the latest in a series of actions to crackdown on illegal streaming and those profiting from it.
In July 2021, a man was arrested in connection with suspected illegal streaming of premium television channels and other copyrighted material, following a West Mercia Police investigation in partnership with FACT.
This followed the sentencing of a man to 16 months’ imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to multiple copyright and fraud offences. The judge recognised that his use of the unauthorised service was a distinct crime in itself, which was reflected in him receiving a separate sentence of four months’ imprisonment for using the service.
In April 2021, a serving Corporal in the Royal Air Force (RAF) who sold illegal services which provided access to premium sport, TV and films was sentenced to ten months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months. He was convicted of conspiracy to defraud and loss of service property and also received a reduction to his rank.