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Latvian ISPs Can Now Block Pirate IPTV Websites Without Court Order

By Bill Toulas / January 2, 2019

A new Latvian law that just came into effect burdens the country’s ISPs (Internet Service Providers) with domain blocking obligations. The domains to be targeted include pirate sites that illegally broadcast unlicensed TV content via the Internet. As is the case all over the world right now, pirate IPTV services in Latvia have shown an explosion in their growth, with many thousands of people choosing to subscribe to these platforms and enjoy a rich collection of available content at a meager cost.

According to the new law (Article 21.8 of the “On Electronic Mass Media”), the blocking order will be issued by the National Electronic Media Council (NESMI) and then passed to the Latvian ISPs who will be blocking them within 15 days. The budget that has been allocated to NESMI for the blocking function is about $335k for 2019, and another $280k for the next two years. Whatever is left from this budget will be invested in the development of a special piece of software that will search and monitor websites that contain copyright infringing material.

The blocking of a domain will last for six months, with the option to extend this period while the reported URL remains on NESMI’s blacklist. The new law that overrides the need to acquire a court order for the domain blocking is the result of close cooperation between the Latvian government and a lobby of 14 companies who have interest in protecting copyrighted content against piracy in Latvia. This is only the most recent step taken, as in 2018, the Latvian police have conducted multiple raids in locations that were housing piracy website infrastructure, many criminal cases were brought to court, and many illegal broadcasting companies were fined and closed.

Latvians will have to revert to using the common bypassing methods that are used everywhere where such domain blocks take place, so the technical means is still there no matter the intensification of the war against piracy. However, new laws that streamline the action against pirating websites are simplifying and accelerating the blocking procedure, so this is nothing short of another punch to the face of Latvian piracy.

Do you believe that laws like the above have the power to stop piracy in Latvia? State your opinion in the comments section below, and don’t hesitate to also like and subscribe to our socials on Facebook and Twitter.



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