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Thursday 21 November 2019

Premier League's Irish action to block illegal streaming of matches

TV Boxes like this one can be used to stream football games
TV Boxes like this one can be used to stream football games

The English Premier League is taking legal proceedings in Ireland aimed at clamping down on the illegal streaming of its matches over the internet.

Proceedings were initiated by the league against five major internet service providers in the High Court in Dublin this week.

The precise orders to be sought by the league, trading as Football Association Premier League Ltd, have yet to be revealed.

Disrupt

However, it is thought it will seek blocking orders similar to those granted in recent years by the High Court of England and Wales.

These required major internet service providers to block and disrupt servers that host illegal streams of top-flight English soccer.

The orders contributed to the blocking or removal of 175,000 illegal streams in the UK during the 2018/19 season, according to the league.

A spokesman for the company declined to comment on the legal action, saying it could not discuss a live case.

The High Court action is being taken against Sky Ireland Ltd, Sky Subscribers Services Ltd, Vodafone Ireland Ltd, Virgin Media Ireland Ltd and Eircom Ltd, trading as Eir.

While the league has previously secured anti-piracy orders and injunctions in foreign jurisdictions such as the Netherlands and Singapore, this is the first time it has turned its attention to Ireland.

The move comes amid concern over the increasing prevalence of illegal streaming devices.

These include 'set top' or Android boxes preloaded with apps that allow viewers to stream pay-television content for free.

Some devices also operate by subscription but the fee charged goes to criminal enterprises rather than legitimate rights holders such as Sky Sports and BT Sport.

Last month, gardai dismantled a suspected pirate TV operation that officers believe could have been costing legitimate operators more than €20m annually.

Previously the High Court has dealt with applications for injunctions aimed at blocking websites streaming or facilitating the illegal downloading of movies and television shows.

Last year, the Commercial Court granted an injunction sought by the Motion Pictures Association requiring major internet service providers to block eight illegal pirate websites.

The association represents 20th Century Fox, Universal, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Disney, Columbia and Sony Pictures and claimed the sites were breaching the copyright of its members.

None of the service providers opposed the application.

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