London
20 March 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Premier League granted live-blocking order


The English Premier League has been granted a live-blocking order against the UK’s biggest ISPs.

BT, EE, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media are obliged to block particular servers when a live Premier League football match is being broadcast, according to a UK High Court order on 13 March.

The order came into force on 18 March and will last until 22 May, which is the end of the 2016/2017 Premier League season. The timeframe is intended to assess the order’s effectiveness.

The Premier League said that targeting specific server IP addresses is more effective than blocking individual websites, as new streaming methods such as IPTV boxes and media players are allowing more widespread and direct infringement.

According to Justice Richard Arnold’s order, there is “increasing evidence of football fans turning to streaming devices which access infringing streams as a substitute for paid subscriptions to services such as those offered by Sky and BT”.

“This undermines the value of [the Premier League’s] rights and, if unchecked, is likely to reduce the revenue returned by the Premier League to football clubs, sports facilities and the wider sporting community.”

In a statement, BT said: “We support the application by the Premier League to crack down on illegal streaming.”

“The application is consistent with the recent initiatives undertaken by rights holders, government, online marketplaces and content creators to protect intellectual property.”

“Piracy is an issue that threatens the long-term interest of UK consumers, businesses and everyone earning a living from the creative sector.”

Sky said in a statement that it is "pleased the English Premier League's application to crack down on illegal streaming has been granted".

“Content piracy is theft and the success of this application is an important step in tackling the issue.”

While the Premier League was the only formal applicant, a range of broadcasters and rights owners, including the BBC, the Football Association and the Scottish Premier League, supported the application.

Earlier this month, the Premier League confirmed it had been granted a court order to fully block unauthorised streams on Kodi IPTV set-top boxes.

That order allows the Premier League to “disrupt and prevent the illegal streaming of matches via IPTV, so called Kodi, boxes”, according to a Premier League spokesperson.

“This will enable us to target the suppliers of illegal streams to IPTV boxes, and the internet, in a proportionate and precise manner.”

“[The Premier League will] continue working with ISPs, government and other sports content producers to protect consumers from illegitimate services that offer no recourse when services are removed, provide no parental controls and, in many instances, are provided by individuals involved in other criminal activity.”

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