Head of Premier League’s APAC content protection comments on piracy

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Football (or, what Americans call Soccer) is the world’s most popular sport, making it vulnerable to piracy, according to Aaron Herps, the head of content protection for the Premier League in Asia-Pacific; in a long article running in AsiaIP (linked below) that makes worthwhile reading.  Piracy both compromises the businesses of sports leagues and broadcasters, and exposes consumers to privacy and financial harms online.

“One of the reasons that the Premier League established its first international office in Singapore in 2019 was “to work more closely with local broadcast partners and to develop a greater understanding of fans across the region and the way they watch Premier League football, helping to create a tailored approach to tackling piracy,” said Mr Herps.

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The Premier League’s “Boot Out Piracy” campaign was launched in December 2020 in collaboration with broadcast partners Astro and PCCW to highlight the dangers that illegal football streams pose to fans, from data theft to malicious malware, as well as emphasising the poor viewing experience through broken links and delays.

Successes and challenges

The Premier League “successfully blocked more than 500 domains across websites and infringing apps in Singapore alone, as well as website blocks in Malaysia, Vietnam and Indonesia,” said Mr. Herps. “We have also secured legal precedents and supported notable police raids across the region.”

Collaboration between the Premier League and the Singapore government resulted in updates to its Copyright Act, adding a ban to the sale of illicit streaming devices (ISDs). In 2022, Singapore Police Force, with the close support of the Premier League who assisted in the identification of ISD sellers and infringing devices, seized more than 2,500 ISDs and arrested 17 offenders.

The article also gives examples of challenges in dealing with local piracy platforms, the spread of piracy through social media; all against a background of rapid technological change and the evolution of piracy techniques.

Further reading

Combatting piracy in Southeast Asia: Insights from the Premier League. Article. May 31, 2024. AsiaIP, Apex Media Group

Premier League continues anti-piracy campaign of illegal football streams in Asia: ‘Boot Out Piracy’ campaign will highlight dangers illegal Premier League streams pose to fans. Article. December 16, 2020. Premier League

Why it matters

The Premier League commits to tackling piracy and works closely with its official broadcast partners in the Asia-Pacific region (and worldwide) to educate consumers on the dangers they face when watching illegal football streams. The Premier League has also been targeting those responsible for operating illegal football streams and bringing them to justice through the courts.

In addition to successfully blocking multitudes of illegal sites and apps across the region, this also includes criminal actions against the suppliers of illicit football streaming devices, which not only provide poor quality content but also create opportunities for cybercriminals to target Premier League fans.

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