In the modern age of technology, the rise of illegal IPTV operators has emerged as a serious threat to the entertainment industry. These illegal services provide access to copyrighted content via the internet, without any legal or financial permission from the owners. This creates immense losses for the entertainment industry which can only be mitigated by cracking down on such illegal service providers. Digital forensics has emerged as a key player in helping to secure successful prosecutions against these illegal operators.
IPTV stands for Internet Protocol Television. It is the delivery of television content via the internet, as opposed to traditional terrestrial, satellite or cable television. IPTV has grown in popularity in recent years, as it allows viewers to watch their favourite shows and channels even when they are on the go. Unfortunately, there are illegal IPTV operators who take advantage of this popularity, offering low-cost access to premium channels and programs that they don’t own. This is where digital forensics comes in.
Digital forensics involves collecting, analysing, and preserving electronic evidence in a manner that is acceptable in court. When it comes to illegal IPTV operators, digital forensics can be used to capture vital evidence such as servers, passwords, and bank records to secure successful prosecutions against the operators. This evidence can be obtained through a variety of sources, including social media monitoring, undercover operatives, and data analysis.
Digital forensics has proven to be an effective tool in prosecuting illegal IPTV operators and many illegal streaming networks have been brought to justice, ensuring the industry is protected.
To combat this problem, FACT collaborates with Crimestoppers (for reporting piracy) and law enforcement agencies to help investigate and prosecute illegal operators, ensuring that the rights of legitimate rights holders are protected and their revenues are safeguarded. These prosecutions have led to lengthy prison terms for some of the highest-profile illegal streaming cases in the UK.
In the “Dreambox” case in 2019-2022, the operators of an illegal IPTV streaming service were sentenced to 17 years in prison and received a £1 million Court Order. Similarly, in the case of ‘NoHatsNoTrainers’ in 2022, the operator was sentenced to four and a half years and ordered to pay over £250K in compensation, and in 2022, the operators behind ‘Flawless’ were sentenced to over 30 years in prison in what is considered to be the largest prosecution of an illegal streaming service in the world.
These are just a few examples of recent FACT cases where operators were prosecuted and convicted of copyright infringement. In each of these cases, digital forensics and collaborative investigations played a crucial role in gathering evidence against the operators, leading to the successful outcome of these cases.
The entertainment industry can no longer accept losses due to illegal IPTV providers. IP protection organisations such as FACT and law enforcement agencies such as the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) are committed to cracking down on this illegal activity. With the help of digital forensics, authorities can continue to gather critical evidence, secure convictions, and stamp out this illegal activity.