Italian Postal Police dismantle major sports piracy network with 900k subscribers

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Acting on orders by the District Prosecutor of Catania, the Cyber ​​Security Operations Centers of the Italian Postal Police conducted searches and seizures nationwide against members of a transnational video piracy operation that distributed football matches, movies, series TV programming and other content.

It was estimated that the operation was responsible for as much as 70 percent of illegal streaming in Italy.  It had more than 900.000 users paying about ten Euros per month, which generated monthly profits of millions of euros.  Charges against suspects include membership in a criminal organization, money laundering, fraud, forgery and impersonation.

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The pirate service was promoted via Telegram and other social networks, via bots, and through various advertising channels.

International operation

According to the Italian anti-piracy organization FAPAV, more than 70 people had been under investigation, which enabled investigators to identify an organized international criminal operation distributed within Italy and abroad in England, Germany and Tunisia.   In Italy, searches were conducted in Ancona, Avellino, Bari, Benevento, Bologna, Brescia, Catania, Cosenza, Fermo, Messina, Naples, Novara, Palermo, Perugia, Pescara, Reggio Calabria, Rome, Salerno, Syracuse, Trapani, L’Aquila and Taranto.

Sports leagues respond

Luigi De Siervo, CEO of Lega Serie A, commented that “Another important blow was scored in the fight against audiovisual piracy. The attention and commitment of all the parties involved must always remain at the highest level because criminals constantly find a way to illegally disseminate our content by stealing huge resources from the football system.”

“I would like to reiterate that the damage created by self-styled fans who subscribe to illicit streaming services to watch football matches affects the entire supply chain, damages their club, and without the money stolen from crime we will not be able to attract more new ones. samples,” said Mr. DeSiervo.

Read further details:

Operation “GOTHA” of the Postal Police: Dismantled an illegal streaming network with illegal profits of 10 million Euros, FAPAV, Italy (translated to English from Italian by Google Translate)

Illegal Streaming: maxi operation in Italy, the largest audiovisual piracy network dismantled, Nova News, Italy

Illegal streaming, international network dismantled. Over 900 thousand users involved, Ruetir, Italy.

Why it matters

The phenomenon of illegal streaming of audiovisual content represents a serious problem, not only for the cinema, TV and sport industries, but for the country as a whole, both from an economic and industrial development point of view, and with respect to information security and the protection of citizens’ privacy,” said Federico Bagnoli Rossi, FAPAV President.

“This operation opens up a new decisive season in the fight against piracy with numerous important institutional appointments, from hearings in AGCOM (Italy’s Communication Regulatory Authority) related to the implementation of the Copyright Directive to the implementation of the Digital Services Act Regulation. It is necessary to be increasingly effective and timely in contrasting and in this direction I believe it is essential that the anti-piracy law proposal, recently filed in the Chamber of Deputies,” he said.

Economic impact

According to recent FAPAV/Ipsos data, the overall incidence of piracy of films, series/fiction, programs and live sports is 43%. Among the methods, the figure for those who have used illicit IPTV at least once is growing sharply, going from 10% in 2019 to 23% in 2021. The estimate of the potential damage in terms of turnover, lost directly due to the non-use of pirated films and series/fiction, is equal to 673 million in 2021 and if we talk about the lack of legal use of live sports due to illegal behavior, the estimate stands at 267 million euros. Alarming numbers that have an important impact in economic terms on industry and on the country system, with inevitable repercussions on employment rates: due to piracy it is estimated that 9,400 jobs are at risk. (Source: FAPAV)

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