Advanced Television

France: ISPs, rightsholders in anti-piracy pact

January 19, 2023

By Colin Mann

French comms regulator Arcom, together with trade bodies l’Association pour la protection des programmes sportifs (APPS) [Association for the Protection of Sports Programmes] and la Fédération Française des Télécoms [French Telecoms Federation] (FFTélécoms) have welcomed the signing of an agreement between the four major ISPs and APPS to strengthen the fight against the illegal distribution of online sports content.

Over the past year, pursuant to Article L. 333-10 of the Sports Code and prior to the conclusion of this agreement, Arcom had received 85 referrals from sports rights holders relating to ten sports competitions. The domain names of 787 mirror sites were notified by Arcom to ISPs who applied the blocking measures with particular diligence, commended by the regulator. In total, thanks to these actions, to which must be added the services blocked by access providers in execution of the initial court decisions, 1,299 illegal sites have been blocked for the benefit of the protection of sports broadcasts since the beginning of the 2022.

Accordingly, thanks to the operational cooperation set up between Arcom, rights holders and internet access providers, in the first half of 2022 alone, the overall illicit sports audience has halved (49 per cent). However, it is important to remain vigilant, says Arcom, noting that new ways of access to fraudulent services (illegal IPTV, VPN or alternative DNS) require constant assessment of the most relevant measures to put in place, such as soliciting all the players likely to intervene to put an end to attacks on rights.

Arcom, APPS, FFTélécoms and telco Iliad welcome this agreement, which will strengthen and accelerate the measures taken to protect sporting events. Indeed, the parties have agreed both on good practices in judicial matters but also on the assumption of the costs of the automation of the blocking measures notified by Arcom upon referral by the rightful claimants.

“The conclusion of this agreement is the culmination of real teamwork which is now destined to continue, to anticipate the evolution of uses, protect rights and allow their fair remuneration,” stated Roch-Olivier Maistre, President of Arcom. “The fight against sports piracy on the internet protects the major competitions that bring us together just as it protects the funding of amateur sport, the practice of which in our territories contributes to their vitality, promotes inclusion and encourages cohesion.”

“After more than a year of negotiations, we are delighted to have reached an agreement which will allow Internet service providers to benefit from a contractual and technical framework facilitating the implementation of these blockages, and to holders of rights to be even better protected against illegal piracy,” added Liza Bellulo, President of FFTélécoms. “We now call for the conclusion of new agreements by new players such as hosts or search engines in order to shape the implementation of this ‘safety net’ on the entire chain of the digital ecosystem.”

“This signature marks an important step for the protection of sports content in France on which the members of the APPS, bringing together both broadcasters and rights holders, have been able to build and perpetuate their agreement,” said Maxime Saada, President of the APPS. “The result of a constructive dialogue with Arcom and Internet service providers, this agreement will make it possible to accelerate and consolidate the fight against sports piracy, while leaving the possibility of adapting it to new methods of illegal access such as IPTV offers. Collectively, we will thereby be able better to target the illicit services that attack the pillar of sports funding, which are audiovisual rights.”

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