English Premier League Football Takes Action To ISP Block Illegal Streams Of Its Content

In collaboration with major ISPs, the League secures a High Court injunction

The English Premier football league (EPL) has moved to protect its intellectual property from illegal streamers delivering live internet feeds of its games by securing an injunction from the High Court of Justice in England.

The injunction, issued under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, enables the EPL to ISP block illegal streams via Internet Protocol television boxes or similar streaming devices in real time.

Although the filing names six major UK Internet Service Providers as defendants, the ISPs reportedly supported the EPL application and negotiated the terms of the Court order.

Legal observers note that the case is significant in that contrary to earlier internet piracy cases where specific websites were named in blocking orders, the EPL injunction “seeks to cut off streams at their sources by blocking IP addresses of the suspected domestic or overseas servers at the ISP level while the games are being played. If access to the originating server is blocked, all other mobile access mechanisms will be disrupted.”

Dan Johnson, a spokesman for the league, said: “For the first time this will enable the Premier League to disrupt and prevent the illegal streaming of our matches via IPTV, so-called Kodi boxes.”

In many instances, the pirated services “are provided by individuals involved in other criminal activity,” he claimed.

Earlier this year the EPL took action against facilitators of illegal streams serving pubs and entities supplying pre-loaded IPTV boxes, which resulted in the imposition of fines totalling GBP 360,000. One of the companies fined was based in Dubai and sold digital satellite equipment.

ISP providers who are also sport broadcasters, such as BT, Virgin and Sky have an interest in supporting anti-piracy initiatives because they pay millions of pounds sterling for the legal broadcast rights from the EPL on its matches.

How the injunction will be implemented in technical terms remains confidential, but the Court noted that the EPL has the capability to accurately identify streams in real time and alert the ISPs to take action.

To ensure the process is fair and within the law, the order lays down various safeguards, including the resetting of targeted server lists every match week, and the notification of hosting providers.

The Court has placed a time limit on the injunction which takes it through to the end of the current EPL season, Thereafter, and presumably following a review of the situation, the injunction becomes renewable.