Advanced Television

Vietnam: Online piracy conviction

April 23, 2024

By Colin Mann

Following criminal referrals by the Premier League and anti-piracy coalition the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), the People’s Court of Hanoi has handed down Vietnam’s first-ever criminal sentence for online copyright infringement against Le Hai Nam, the operator of the illegal IPTV subscription service, BestBuy IPTV.

BestBuy IPTV, which has been named in the US Trade Representative’s Notorious Markets List for the past five years, unlawfully provided pirated sports, films and TV series to consumers in Vietnam and around the world. Nam, who ran the service out of Hanoi, pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to 30 months in jail (suspended) and was ordered to pay the equivalent of $4,000 (€3,745). A total of more than $24,000 in illegal profit was confiscated and allocated to public funding. Nam has also paid $12,000 in restitution as stated in the indictment.

“The defendant has violated the provisions of the law which protect the copyright and related rights of the Motion Picture Association’s members and the English Premier League,” said Judge Le Hai Yen of the Hanoi People’s Court. “[Such crimes are] a danger to society and needed to be strictly enforced and prosecuted. [The case should] serve as a deterrent to others.”

According to ACE, this represents an important milestone in the fight against online piracy in the country and sets a precedent for future legal actions.

This landmark case is a significant step forward in combating online piracy in Vietnam. It underscores the seriousness of the offense and sends a clear message that piracy will not be tolerated. It also demonstrates the importance of collaboration between the private and public sector to stamp out online copyright infringement.

“This result should serve as a stark warning to anyone involved in the illegal supply of Premier League streams in Vietnam,” stated Premier League General Counsel Kevin Plumb. “It is the result of a strong partnership between the Vietnamese authorities and local law enforcement, ACE and the Premier League. The criminal conviction sets a significant precedent for future initiatives aimed at protecting intellectual property rights in Vietnam and beyond. We will continue to work with our local broadcast partner K+ to educate fans of the dangers of streaming Premier League football through pirate services and to remind them that the safest way to watch matches in the best quality is through our official licensee.”

“We applaud the Vietnamese government and local law enforcement for their action in the case, demonstrating the power of a joint global effort to confront and prosecute the operators of content piracy services,” added Karyn Temple, Senior Executive Vice President and Global General Counsel for the Motion Picture Association (MPA). “IPTV and illegal streaming services continue to have a detrimental effect upon the Vietnamese film and television industry and on those around the world who earn a living working behind and in front of the camera. We eagerly await similar action from Vietnamese law enforcement on other longstanding priority targets engaged in digital piracy on a global scale.”

ACE and the Premier League will continue working closely with local, regional and global law enforcement agencies and authorities to safeguard the integrity of entertainment content and sports, ensuring fans can access content through authorised channels.

The Premier League and its licensee in Vietnam, K+, have worked together to block over 2,500 domains across websites in Vietnam and almost 18,000 pirate service listings have been removed from online auction sites aimed at fans across the region.

The Premier League conducts substantial legal efforts both globally and regionally. For example:

  • Mobdro, a large illegal streaming platform, shut down in March 2021 after a joint investigation and referral by the Premier League and ACE, leading to law enforcement action by Spanish authorities and Europol. Mobdro offered unauthorized access to live TV and video content worldwide, including sports, on various devices. It enjoyed widespread popularity across the Asia-Pacific region.
  • In September 2021, Singapore passed a law banning pirate set-top boxes, leading to a crackdown in October 2022 by the Singapore Police Force with support from the Premier League. This operation resulted in over 2,500 illegal devices being seized and 17 arrests. Legal proceedings against the accused are ongoing.
  • In March 2024, the Premier League obtained a court order in Singapore requiring Internet Service Providers to block 25 websites streaming pirated Premier League matches. This order introduced a refined method for blocking, making it harder for pirate operators to evade detection and circumvent blocks, thereby strengthening efforts against online piracy.

Categories: Articles, Business, Content, IPTV, OTT, OTT, Piracy, Policy, Regulation, Rights

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