A request by the German political party the FDP in the Bundestag in October 2018 shows how important the issue of illegal distribution of TV content via the Internet (IPTV) really is.
Obviously, the FDP based their request on a study carried out by the Vaunet association from August 2018. The association’s study examined the usage behaviour of consumers and tried to quantify the economic damage. According to the study, this amounted to € 700 million for Germany alone.
However, the provider’s view is missing in the analysis. Illegal services are not isolated. They require many intermediaries to function. These intermediaries play an important, if not decisive, role in solving the problem. A key role is played in particular by data centres from which illegal IPTV streams are „sent“ into the world wide web.
For this reason, a new study (IPTV – Data centres for illegale streaming services) has examined the provider side and especially the data centres of the streams, but also those sites that promote illegal streaming services.
As in the study on illegal movie hosts, the French company OVH is the most important provider in this area. Overall, data centres in the EU, and predominantly in France and the Netherlands, occupy the top position in distributing illegal IPTV content.
The dominant players are those that either have a very attractive value for money, good connections to central nodes of the Internet or those that simply allow anonymous use.
The enormous number of data centres from the EU raises the question of the responsibility of the companies involved. Some of them have apparently specialised in the business with illegal streams (example Netherlands). Others have a re-seller structue, which apparently facilitates the almost anonymous operation of illegal IPTV services (example France).
Thanks to anonymous payment methods, the re-sellers make it possible to operate illegal IPTV services safely and undetected with the help of data centres from the EU.
The spreading of responsibility is the driver of this development. If anything is to change in the future, this can only be done by changing the liability laws.
We need a new approach „name your customer“. Only then will it be possible to effectively end the business of illegal services. Legally this would be covered by the legal notice obligation of the E-Commerce Directive.
If data centres offer their services to customers who run websites with illegal content and who do not offer an adequate imprint, the data centre should be liable for such content.
Volker Rieck is managing director of the content protection service provider FDS File Defense Service, which works for numerous rights owners. The company also prepares studies on piracy and supports law enforcement companies with the data it collects.
Volker Rieck blogs regularly on Webschauder and from time to time on the US blog The Trichordist on various aspects of unregulated content distribution. His articles also appear on Tarnkappe.info and in the FAZ.