01 April 2016
Reporter: Tammy Facey

Digital piracy in sports is rife

Digital piracy is costing the global economy more than $75 billion per year, according to NetNames, with 23 percent of internet bandwidth used for streaming illegal content.

Its new report, on the increasing threat of intellectual property infringement in the sports industry, said a significant proportion of this figure is dedicated to illegal streams of football matches.

Illegal streams are usually accessed through either the grey market, with overseas TV broadcasts being hijacked by UK satellite receiving equipment, or on the black market, where games are distributed via online channels.

Online infringements of sports broadcasts are trickier to combat because of the nature of the events, according to the report.

“Removing links to websites that are hosting illegally streamed material requires the coordination of the rights holder, the social media platform that has allowed users to share the links, and the website where the content is being streamed from. Quite a task for something happening live.”

“Sporting events aren’t like the latest blockbuster movies—their interest reduces as soon as the event is over. Being able to monitor social media for infringing content is possible—having the enforcement team is the harder part. The role that the broadcast rights holders is also key. They have to do everything they can to protect their investment.”

Video sharing platforms such as Periscope are further complicating social media’s role in infringement, according to NetNames, with short clips proving immensely popular, particularly during expensive pay-per-view events.

What’s more, traditional online enforcement strategies, such as targeting keywords in links, are becoming obsolete due to advances in technology.

“The difficulty for digital rights holders when considering Periscope usage is that they have no means to monitor for infringements. As Periscope had used URL shorteners, monitoring of keywords within a URL wasn’t possible, which makes it almost impossible to monitor/detect and enforce in terms of social media monitoring solutions.”

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