Over the past couple of years, it has become abundantly clear that entertainment industry groups are taking the rise of ‘pirate’ TV boxes very seriously.
Where previously the supply of unlicensed content into living rooms mainly took place via hacked satellite and cable boxes, the latest threat is content delivered directly via the Internet.
Thousands of live channels are now readily available via cheap monthly subscriptions, modified Kodi installations, or dedicated apps, all of which are considered a threat by small and large broadcasters alike.
There are many civil strategies available for reducing the flow but in the UK, high-tier police forces are now getting involved. According to an organized crime unit based in the north of England, a wave of activity took place just this week.
The North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (NWROCU) is a collaboration between police forces across Cumbria, Lancashire, Merseyside, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, and North Wales. During Tuesday, the unit said it contacted people involved in the supply of ‘pirate’ IPTV subscriptions (sometimes known as ‘lines’) and the sale of modified set-top boxes.
“Our disruption team have been working with GAIN (Government Agency Intelligence Network) & @FACTUK & today issued cease & desist notices in Wrexham & Blackburn to people involved in the sale of illegal IPTV subscriptions & cracked online television boxes,” the unit said in a statement.
GAIN is a multi-agency group that provides a mechanism for various agencies to work together and share information. More than four years ago it was involved in raids against several ‘pirate’ box sellers.
FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft) needs little introduction, as it has been involved in similar operations against a number of entities working in the ‘pirate’ IPTV arena, whether that’s via subscription-based services or modified set-top boxes.
Early today, TorrentFreak sought comment from FACT chief Kieron Sharp on the events of yesterday. We asked about the nature of the campaign, whether it would be expanded to other areas, and requested further details on those targeted. We were also keen to know which laws are allegedly being broken.
Due to the nature of the investigation and the involvement of various police units, Sharp couldn’t immediately offer a comment but we’ll update when we receive a more detailed response.
The brief police statement does not make it clear whether those ordered to cease and desist are lower-tier players (resellers of subscriptions) or those closer to the top (IPTV providers), or a combination of both. The former seems more likely but in the absence of more detail, it’s impossible to say.
The North West Regional Organised Crime Unit has now been involved in action against illicit streaming on at least two occasions in as many months.
In June, its officers arrested the alleged operator of the Supremacy Kodi add-on repository after it was reported to the unit by FACT in association with the Premier League, Sky, BT Sport, and Virgin Media.