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PIPCU warns users of illegal streaming risks ahead of high-profile sporting events

  • PIPCU warn against illegal streaming ahead of boxing, golf and F1 coverage
  • Using a device to stream TV, sports or films without an official subscription is breaking the law
  • EUIPO report shows illegal streaming sites do put users at risk of malware

Ahead of major boxing, golf and F1 coverage in the coming days, the City of London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) is warning fans to avoid the risks of illegally streamed content.

Upcoming events include:

PIPCU is advising viewers that dodging payment for pay-to-view content is breaking the law after it was revealed by the EUIPO that malware is a risk on copyright-infringing sites. By carrying out searches that didn’t use ad-blockers and clicking on every suspicious link, the EUIPO discovered 4,000 malicious files across the sites, originating from around 100 individually developed pieces of malware.

These included ‘useful’ software, fake game installers and clients for video streaming platforms. Although this software does not necessarily pose direct dangers to the user’s software or hardware, a user might be convinced to disclose sensitive personal information or payment card details through social engineering tricks. In addition, information about the computer itself might be leaked to other parties without explicit user consent.

Consumers also need to be aware that streaming without the right permissions or subscriptions is no longer a grey area. In April last year the EU Court of Justice ruled that not only was selling devices allowing access to copyrighted content illegal, but using one to stream TV, sports or films without an official subscription is also breaking the law.

People should be aware that misusing their TV subscriptions has serious repercussions. For example, customers found to be illegally sharing paid-for content can have their subscription account terminated immediately and can expect to be prosecuted.

Detective Inspector Nick Court of the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit said:

“There are numerous high profile sporting events each year, so don’t let your eagerness to tune in make you commit a crime.

“By using illegal streaming sites you can open yourself up to several risks including malware and passing on personal data to untrusted sources.

“By using legitimate providers these risks can easily be avoided. Watch it live, watch it legally.”

Dr Ros Lynch, Director of Copyright and Enforcement at the Intellectual Property Office, said:

“We echo the advice given by the PIPCU, as illegal streaming can end up being a costly decision.

“The timing is particularly relevant in view of the number of exciting sporting events coming up this autumn, so we want sports fans to be able to relax and enjoy their pay-to-view entertainment, safe in the knowledge that they are protected from exposure to malware and are accessing content legally.”

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