The rise of Internet Protocol television – or IPTV as every knows it – to watch premium TV, films, and live sport has resulted in the loss of billions in revenue to those providing the services. But its entire existence is threatened by new piracy weapons that are currently being used by authorities.

Using IPTV to watch the likes of Sky Sports or Netflix for free, which many do through hacking devices such as an Amazon Fire TV Stick or Roku box, is massively illegally and in direct violation of copyright law.

And with at least one million more people expected to use IPTV across Europe by the end of 2030, it is an issue that clearly shows no sign of going away any time soon.

But it could all change through one piece of software being used to stop illegal IPTV users in their tracks.

It comes as a landmark ruling has been passed in Spain concerning the fight against illegal streams of the country’s top football competition, La Liga. Although the ruling has started to cause some confusion over conflicting interpretations.

But this new system goes a lot further and deeper than what is happening in Spain.

Brought in across Italy, the new Piracy Shield system is a game-changer in the country – albeit a controversial one.

The system went live in February this year and according to reports has already blocked 528 IP addresses as well as 114 illegal sites streaming premium content for free.

Watching premium sport on IPTV is illegal.

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What is Piracy Shield?

The whole purpose of Piracy Shield is to protect the intellectual rights that are held by the big sporting players in Italy.

We’re on about the likes of Sky, DAZN, and Prime Video.

It works by blocking illegal streaming of their content, whether that’s of the Champions League, Serie A, or other sporting events only viewable behind their paywalls.

Part of the services it blocks includes IPTV, as well as even DNS and VPN services that exist to bypass geo-specific rules.

Who is behind it?

The Authority for the Guarantee of Communications in Italy (AGCOM) is the body that has brought in Piracy Shield.

It’s Italy’s regulator of the telecommunications, audiovisual and publishing sectors.

Part of AGCOM’s aim is to rid illegal streaming results from search engines like Google.

It means that, as a result of Piracy Shield, you cannot search for ‘watch Serie A for free online’ and get the result you’re after.

Piracy costs billions.

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What happens next? Will illegal streaming die?

It’s time to hold your breath. Piracy Shield is the first real example of authorities coming together to battle pirated content as it happens.

One VPN provider, ZoogVPN, says: “If combined efforts of rights holders, ISPs, VPN and DNS service providers, and search engines prove to be fruitful, there won’t be piracy platforms with decent traffic in a matter of months.

“It is a marathon event, not a sprint, and the coming months will be crucial in determining its effectiveness.”

Those behind Piracy Shield have said it is essential for the survival of sport in the country, with TV rights playing a huge part in the revenue streams of the likes of Serie A football clubs.

There are security risks associated with using IPTV.

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Will it come to the UK?

As it stands there’s no known plans for a system like Piracy Shield to come to the UK.

But it’s clear as day that it has the potential if it proves to be a success, especially when you look at the Premier League and the TV rights deals that come with it.

Last year, Sky Sports, the BBC and TNT Sports split the live and highlights rights for the Premier League for the next four years, valued at a staggering combined £6.7 billion.

For context, the current Serie A TV rights deal is worth £3.75 billion.

And with efforts in Spain increasing to tackle piracy of La Liga, there is growing pressure on foreign soil when it comes to take more hands on, affirmative action.

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Topics: Amazon, Amazon Prime, Crime, Disney, Netflix, Sport, TV and Film, UK News, World News, Premier League

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