AAPA perspectives: EU’s Digital Services Act failed on live event piracy, which is still a ‘thing’

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The UK-based Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA) is a leading advocate in the European region.  “Piracy continues to cause considerable harm to the audiovisual sector, despite its efforts and investments in anti-piracy activities and technologies,” said AAPA’s Executive VP, Sheila Cassells in an interview by IBC in advance of the 2023 IBC convention in Amsterdam.

“While the pandemic spikes have reduced, piracy remains a significant challenge and industry players – and associated stakeholders such as IBC, social media companies, hosting providers, etc – must remain very vigilant,” she said.

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Citing research by Parks Associates that estimated cumulative losses for US streaming piracy in the US at $113 billion in 2027, and research for AAPA by Bournemouth University estimated that legitimate IPTV providers lost €3.21 billion to pirates in 2021, with the pirates earning €1.06 billion. Some 17m European citizens used illicit IPTV services in that year, according to the interview.

European Union Digital Services Act

AAPA was disappointed that the DSA failed to deliver on many fronts. That includes the missed opportunity to adopt a Know Your Business Customer (KYBC) requirement which would have required hosting providers, e-commerce platforms, apps stores, etc, to carry out due diligence on their potential customers.   KYBC is a set of best-practices and recommendations by media industry stakeholders, aimed at reducing the risk of illegal content.

“AAPA is very aware from our conversations with these stakeholders that they often take no steps to screen out customers who facilitate piracy,” said Ms. Cassells.

“A major disappointment is the failure to legislate against live event piracy. This is a very real and current problem which is costing the sports industry, amongst others, substantial damage. Despite this – and the calls of 110 MEPs for legislation – we have a non-binding Recommendation, the impact of which will be monitored over three years before the need for legislation is accepted,” she said.

Ignore devices and apps at your peril

Ms. Casells continued: “Media and entertainment companies need to be very concerned about any technological development which can be used to access pirated content. At a basic level – and common to all the technical devices mentioned – AAPA would like to see the production, marketing and distribution of any device which can be used to infringe IP made illegal.

There is a precedent for this in the EU in the so-called Conditional Access Directive. It is encouraging also to see e-commerce platforms such as Amazon taking action against counterfeit firesticks. However, the sector faces a particular challenge in pursuing action with many of these devices being made in China, and taking action there is not easy.

Further reading

Interview: AAPA’s Sheila Cassells on counterfeit devices and live event piracy. Article. August 30, 2023. by David Davies. IBC 2023 Live Blog.

AAPA report: European media stakeholders lost €3.21 billion to streaming piracy in 2021. Article. December 14, 2022. by Steven Hawley, Piracy Monitor.

IP Perception 2023. Europeans and intellectual property studies series. Released June 12, 2023. European Union Intellectual Property Office.

EU passes Digital Services and Digital Markets acts; misses on live piracy.  Article. July 5, 2022. by Steven Hawley. Piracy Monitor

Parks Associates forecasts cumulative revenue loss to piracy from streaming services to surpass $113 billion by 2027 in US market.  Report. April, 2023. by Steven Hawley, Contributing Analyst. Parks Associates

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