Fighting online piracy requires collaboration

December 28, 2016 markmulready

Online piracy is a highly sophisticated operation that often spans different countries and jurisdictions. Trying to tackle this on your own will have limited effect. To have an impact means working together.

Hare and the tortoise
Online piracy is one of the biggest threats facing pay-media providers and content owners. It’s a growing pandemic problem and not easy to solve. Pirates are continually adapting. Unhindered by rules and regulations they move at internet speed.

The legitimate world moves at a slower pace. But that doesn’t mean it’s not effective. We all know the children’s fable about the hare and the tortoise. The diligent, steady tortoise won the race! The same was true in a recent case in the Netherlands: the good guys prevailed.

Success takes time
Starting in 2011 Irdeto helped cable operators UPC and Ziggo investigate several suspects offering control word sharing equipment and illegal pirate subscriptions. The Irdeto team collected evidence during months of investigations, including monitoring adverts on e-commerce sites and classifieds; intelligence gathering and working with our informant network. The result was in 2013, five homes were raided.

Since then, the case has been progressing through the judicial system. In 2015, two pirates were convicted and in November 2016 another 3 pirates were sentenced. This doesn’t happen overnight. The judicial process takes time. But the end result is that the pirate network has been shut down, justice has been served and a strong message has been sent to the community that piracy is a crime.

This success was only possible due to the close collaboration between Irdeto, our customer, the Dutch police and the law enforcement agencies.

Conviction relies on quality of evidence
Whether it is for control word sharing or for illegal streaming, the process is the same. Convicting pirates relies on indisputable evidence. Although a number of companies offer anti-piracy services, it is critical that your chosen partner has a proven track record when it comes to investigating and shutting down pirate networks across the globe. What should you look for?

My advice would be to ensure that your partner has a team of experts including trained investigators, legal and law enforcement, computer forensics and intelligence analysts. They have an established network across law enforcement agencies, industry bodies and platform owners. This means that they have experience in what is required to successfully bring a case to court: the investigative skills, complete understanding of the forensic requirements and the chain of evidence. Having a partner with this expertise, makes it easier for the police. It facilitates further investigation and prosecution. Speaking from experience, with my years in law enforcement and as a prosecutor, it makes a world of difference to the positive outcome of the case if the partner has this background and experience.

Collaboration between all parties: partner, customer, law enforcement and legal is essential. After all the best way to fight online piracy is to work as a team!

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