Portugal is Extending Their Voluntary Piracy Blocking to Live Sports Streams

By Bill Toulas / January 21, 2019

Portugal has been maintaining a versatile piracy-fighting mechanism that allowed ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to immediately block copyright infringing domains without a court order since 2015. This has proven to be very effective so far, coordinating the General Inspection of Cultural Activities (IGAC), the Portuguese Association of Telecommunication Operators (APRITEL), the ".PT" domain administration body, and representatives of copyright owners’ groups like FEVIP and GEDIPE. Having such positive results, and considering the rising front of IPTV services, Portugal has extended the jurisdiction of the aforementioned mechanism to enable it to block websites that illegally broadcast sports streams.

The coverage of this emerging piracy sector has actually been agreed on last December between IGAC and APRITEL, and it has now been officially confirmed that the new blocking action will cover live sports as well. As the Inspector General of IGAC stated: “Live events, by their very nature and under penalty of futility, require a faster action of the entities involved in the course of unauthorized transmissions.” This has also been confirmed already by people who are used to access illegal sports streaming platforms, who are reporting an interruption of those services.

IGAC is not actively scrutinizing the content of the websites to impose the blocks, but instead relies on reports that are submitted by the rights-holders, as it is usually the case on such matters. They then evaluate the report and decide whether to send a relevant blocking request to the ISPs. The blocking is not being imposed as a permanent shutdown, but instead as a temporary blockage that is lifted once the protected sports event stream has been concluded. This makes the illegal streaming websites accessible at all times except for the time of the matches, causing confusion and frustration to pirates.

What local football match streaming website operators report, is that the copyright holders seem to be filing more comprehensive blocking notices than ever before, even catching newly created domains that have never streamed a sports event before. This is indicative of the utilization of a new searching tool that quickly locates pirating sites and censors them. As they also point out, IGAC cannot possibly review these requests in detail and decide on the action, as there is a large number of blocks that are going on simultaneously, so the system is most likely working on auto-pilot, with ISPs blocking whatever the copyright holders are telling them to.

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