Hey there! If you‘re a cord-cutter who enjoys streaming tons of live and on-demand content for a cheap monthly fee, you may have been tempted to try out an underground IPTV service promising unlimited access to movies, TV shows, and sports. But be warned – authorities are ramping up enforcement against "pirate" IPTV providers who distribute illegal content without permission from copyright holders.
Just last week, three more individuals were arrested in the UK suspected of running one of these pirated IPTV operations. This latest police operation is just one example of the growing global crackdown on services stealing and re-selling copyrighted programming. Keep reading to learn more about the risks of using pirate IPTV services, major arrests and lawsuits, and how to stream legally and safely.
What is Pirate IPTV?
First what is IPTV? It stands for Internet Protocol Television and refers to delivery of cable TV-like content over the internet rather than through traditional platforms like cable, satellite, or antenna. Legit services like Sling TV, fuboTV, and YouTube TV operate legally by securing the appropriate licenses for the programming they offer.
Pirate IPTV providers also offer live TV channels and on-demand movies/shows via internet streaming. But they obtain the content illegally from unauthorized sources and redistribute it without consent from the copyright holders. This could include pirated streams of sports and network TV, ripped movies still in theaters, binge-worthy shows exclusive to Netflix or Hulu, and more.
These services often advertise loaded streaming devices, jailbroken firesticks, or "free" IPTV subscriptions granting access to unlimited content. But make no mistake – accessing this unlicensed content is 100% illegal.
Recent Arrests in the UK
On March 23, 2022, police in the UK staged raids on three addresses in Oldham, Kirkham, and Blackpool as part of an investigation into an IPTV operation offering unauthorized content. Equipment used for the pirate IPTV service was seized and three individuals arrested on suspicion of criminal copyright infringement.
While the authorities have not released the names of those arrested nor the specific IPTV provider involved, the content being illegally distributed likely came from major sports leagues and UK broadcasters like Sky Sports.
This comes just weeks after four operators of another UK-based IPTV service received prison sentences for fraud and money laundering. Authorities are making it clear that the criminal consequences of IPTV piracy extend beyond just copyright law.
Massive Damage to Content Creators
Copyright holders argue these pirate IPTV operations cause huge financial harm by distributing content without paying licensing fees or sharing revenue. The English Premier League says illegal streaming results in over £1 billion per year in lost revenue.
Sports leagues invest massive amounts of money into broadcasting rights deals. When games and matches are readily available via pirated streams, fans have little incentive to pay for authorized coverage. Broadcasters also lose subscription dollars when consumers flock to IPTV apps with illegally offered channels.
Beyond direct revenue loss, rights holders also emphasize how pirated content distribution devalues their intellectual property and undermines lawful content ecosystems. Just like buying knockoff designer goods steals value from the original brands.
What‘s Being Done to Fight Back?
In both the US and UK, authorities are ramping up enforcement efforts against pirate IPTV services through Piracy squads, lawsuits by copyright holders, website blocking, and criminal prosecutions. Recent examples include:
2017 lawsuit filed by the Premier League against sellers of Kodi streaming boxes in the UK providing illegal soccer streams. The court issued a banning order against the defendants.
Multi-million dollar lawsuit launched in 2018 by DISH Network against Set TV for distributing over 500 copyrighted channels via IPTV without permission.
Las Vegas court order in 2021 compelling hosting companies to cease doing business with 10 IPTV operations illegally streaming copyrighted content.
Criminal prosecution in Denmark resulting in over $1 million in fines against IPTV provider selling 3,000+ unauthorized channels.
You can expect ongoing collaboration between authorities, law enforcement, and media companies hoping to stamp out IPTV piracy. But as fast as one service gets shut down, more seem to pop up in its place.
Protect Yourself – Go Legal!
Rather than take any risks with sketchy pirate IPTV providers, your best bet is to stick with legitimate streaming options. Quality IPTV services like YouTube TV, Sling, and fuboTV give you tons of live TV and sports at fair prices.
For on-demand shows and movies, choose from subscription services like Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, Disney+, and more. Each offers endless libraries safe and legal entertainment.
You can also turn to completely free apps like Tubi, PlutoTV, Crackle, and Plex which let you stream 100% legal movies and shows supported by ads. No piracy required! Cut the cord safely and avoid becoming the next target of IPTV copyright enforcement.
I hope this overview gave you a helpful understanding of the legal issues around pirated IPTV services. Let me know if you have any other streaming related questions!