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MPA Targets BestBuyIPTV & More in Bid to Thwart Piracy and Unfair Competition

The Motion Picture Association (MPA) has once again submitted its annual list of "notorious markets" to the Office of the United States Trade Representative. This list highlights online platforms and services around the world that facilitate access to pirated films, TV shows, and other copyrighted content.

As an industry insider closely following entertainment piracy threats, I see the MPA‘s report as an important watchdog function on behalf of major studios and streaming platforms. The MPA represents heavyweight players including Netflix, Disney, Paramount, Warner Bros., and more. With deep ties in Hollywood, the MPA has authority and clout when calling out piracy havens.

Notorious Markets List: A Primer

The MPA has compiled and submitted its notorious markets list to the USTR since 2006. It aims to bring policymaker attention to websites, apps, and services that enable or promote access to pirated materials. These platforms allow users to stream, download, or otherwise access movies, shows, music, books, and more without authorized distribution rights.

Past submissions have called out everything from torrent indexes to cyberlockers to sellers of modified streaming boxes. The list has proven effective over the years in catalyzing enforcement actions such as domain seizures and prosecutions. Still, new platforms constantly emerge to fill voids left by restricted access to once-notorious markets. It‘s a Sisyphean game of Whac-A-Mole.

Just last year, the USTR cited the MPA‘s list in placing some markets on its own Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy. This can spur trade-based enforcement actions against foreign nations enabling piracy activity.

According to the MPA‘s estimates, online piracy costs the U.S. entertainment industry over $30 billion annually. This drains potential revenues from both major studios and independent creators.

Emerging Threat: Illicit IPTV

This year‘s submission calls special attention to emerging threats around illegal Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) providers.

IPTV offers live TV streaming typically delivered over a closed system. Legitimate IPTV can provide consumers cheaper alternatives to cable and satellite. However, some IPTV providers illegally redistribute copyrighted content.

The rapid rise of IPTV piracy has authorities scrambling to keep up. Recent research suggests over 1,000 illicit IPTV services are operating globally, serving approximately 14.66 million users.

New to the MPA‘s 2021 list is BestBuyIPTV. The India-based provider came on the radar this year after creating a website using the TROYPOINT brand to pretend to sell subscriptions. TROYPOINT is an independent U.S. technology site that does not operate any streaming services.

BestBuyIPTV: A "Notorious Market"Case Study

The MPA submission details multiple issues making BestBuyIPTV a prime example of an illicit IPTV operation:

  • Scamming users: Many subscribers report never receiving working credentials after paying for packages advertised as low as $5 per month. The site displays fake counters suggesting limited availability.

  • Unreliable streams: Users who do get credentials often struggle with constant freezing, missing channels, and connections cutting out. Reviews suggest the service fails to deliver what is promised.

  • Misappropriated branding: BestBuyIPTV went so far as to create an impersonator site at "Hobsoft.comiptv.com" utilizing the TROYPOINT brand and logo without permission. This aims to capitalize on TROYPOINT‘s reputation to appeal to cord-cutters seeking IPTV options.

While BestBuyIPTV may not be the largest IPTV provider enabling piracy, its brazen tactics and scamming of consumers landed it a spot on the most-wanted list.

Piracy‘s Whac-A-Mole Game

The challenge facing authorities is that even as some notorious markets get restricted, new ones keep popping up in different forms across the globe. The MPA‘s submission cites this endless landscape stating:

"Content theft unlikely to abate in years absent a collaborative effort among policymakers, law enforcement officials, technology companies, and the creative community.”

The MPA has expanded the criteria used to identify and categorize piracy threats. This year it called out an emerging business model: "Piracy-as-a-Service" or PaaS.

Piracy Gets Easier with PaaS

PaaS refers to platforms that make launching a piracy operation easy for anyone. As outlined in the MPA submission:

"PaaS providers lower the barriers to entry into commercial piracy by handling the back-end infrastructure and offering plugins or ‘recipes’ that enable easy uploading and management of pirated content libraries.”

Examples include web hosting configured for piracy sites, tools to automate ripping content from Netflix/Prime Video, or app templates configured for pirated movies and shows.

While focusing on evolving concerns like IPTV and PaaS, the submission reiterates ongoing issues around torrent indexes, cyberlockers, unauthorized streaming devices, and more. Persistent threats plus emerging ones form a shifting maze requiring constant vigilance.

How Consumers Can Help

For movie and TV fans seeking legitimate access to content, plenty of authorized options exist. Avoid scam services like BestBuyIPTV by carefully vetting providers and reading impartial reviews.

Utilize trustworthy streaming apps and addons from approved repositories like the Amazon Appstore or Google Play. Rather than pirated streams, choose from the myriad paid streaming subscriptions now available. Supporting legitimate markets helps curb piracy.

Consumers also need to realize accessing pirated materials isn‘t just abstract moral wrongdoing. It hurts average workers throughout the creative community, draining profits that fund future projects. Next time you see a movie torrent or unauthorized stream, consider who really pays.

By staying informed on issues like those raised in the MPA‘s submission, we as consumers can make wise choices. Follow best practices around copyright and access materials only through lawful means. Together we can help tame, even if not outright eliminate, the growing Wild West of digital piracy.

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