26 April 2017
Reporter: Barney Dixon

Pre-installed software for piracy makes IPTV players illegal

The Court of Justice for the EU (CJEU) has reached a decision in the highly anticipated case between Dutch anti-piracy group BREIN and multimedia player distributer Filmspeler.

In a move that has implications for IPTV players, the CJEU ruled today that any media player marketed and sold with pre-installed software allowing access to pirated content infringes the copyright owner’s right of distribution to the public.

The CJEU has already held in GS Media v Sanoma that “the provision, on a website, of clickable links to protected works published without any access restrictions on another site, affords users of the first site direct access to those works”.

“That is also the case for the sale of a multimedia player, such as that at issue in the main proceedings.”

The CJEU also held that the multimedia player was made and sold in full knowledge of its infringing capabilities, as well as being manufactured with view to making a profit.

Adam Rendle, senior associate in the IP and media group at Taylor Wessing, said the decision will “make it easier for rights holders to take action against providers of set-top boxes given the boxes often facilitate and provide access to a wide range of pirate content”.

“Such boxes pose a significant challenge which the audio-visual industry is addressing—as recently recognised by the English High Court which ordered ISPs to block access to the sources of content provided by the boxes.”

He added: “The decision continues the CJEU's much criticised approach to communication to the public but provides copyright owners with a powerful right to use against defendants who do not originate infringing sources of content but derive value from enabling access to it.”

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