Premier League takes High Court action to block illegal streaming

Organisation lodges proceedings against broadband providers in Ireland

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola lifts the trophy as they celebrate winning the Premier League. The league has become increasingly concerned at the rise in the number of people in Ireland using free or cheaper illegal web-based sports TV services. File photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola lifts the trophy as they celebrate winning the Premier League. The league has become increasingly concerned at the rise in the number of people in Ireland using free or cheaper illegal web-based sports TV services. File photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

 

The English Premier League has lodged proceedings in the High Court in a bid to block the illegal viewing of its football matches by tens of thousands of Irish viewers.

The action has been taken against broadband suppliers, Eircom Ltd/Eir, Sky Ireland, Sky Subscriber Services, Virgin Media Ireland and Vodafone Ireland, though they also want subscribers to pay for sports TV services.

The Premier League has become increasingly concerned at the dramatic rise in the number of people in Ireland using free or cheaper illegal web-based sports TV services in recent years.

A court order instructing broadband suppliers to take action over illegal viewing of Premier League matches would provide them with the cover to take steps that might otherwise irritate customers.

They are already co-operating with a Garda Síochána investigation into criminal gangs, including people linked to republican groups, who are providing illegal sports streaming, according to a source, who did not wish to be identified.

In 2017,the Premier League won a UK court order compelling internet service providers (ISPs) BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media to block unauthorised streams at the league’s request.

The court order instructed ISPs to block access by their customers to streaming servers, as against websites, which delivered infringing live streams of Premier League matches.

The move was seen as a significant development in the effort to block the pirating of what is one of the most popular forms of pay-TV content in the world.

Last month in Cork, the gardaí conducted a number of operations against a suspected criminal operation that may have cost legitimate operators more than €20 million annually.

The Garda economic crime investigation unit seized a significant quantity of electronic equipment during the operation, including unlicensed “set top” boxes which allowed people to access prime TV stations.

“The searches were carried out by gardaí from the Cork City division, supported by local detectives, the local Computer Crime Investigation Unit, Cork City and representatives from Virgin Media, Sky TV and Nagra [a digital TV company],” a Garda spokesperson said at the time.

Criminal gangs are also involved in the production of cloned cards for pay-TV systems. A Premier League spokesman had no comment to make about the Irish court proceedings.