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    New UK Police Unit Announces Two Arrests Following Pirate IPTV Investigation / TorrentFreak · Friday, 5 March, 2021 - 10:43 · 3 minutes

IPTV In summer of 2013, TorrentFreak learned that City of London Police had begin sending warning letters to torrent and streaming sites, advising them to shut down or face the consequences.

In December 2013, the launch of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit was officially announced, with the news that the unit had secured £2.56m in initial funding from the UK government’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO).

Just a few months later, PIPCU announced the creation of the “ Infringing Website List “, an official blacklist that is regularly used by advertisers in order to disrupt cash flow to allegedly infringing sites. Since then, PIPCU has been involved in dozens of operations against piracy, including modified set-top box and IPTV suppliers, plus counterfeiting operations. More recently, however, another player began making its presence known.

North West Regional Organised Crime Unit

Starting in 2019, the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (NWROCU) began announcing actions against various entities involved in the Kodi add-on scene and the supply of pirate IPTV

It was fairly clear that NWROCU had become involved in PIPCU-type work and there is now official confirmation that the pair have teamed up to form a brand new police unit focussed on tackling intellectual property crime.

North West Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit

“The City of London Police, the lead force for fraud, has partnered with the Intellectual Property Office and the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit to set up the North West Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit,” City of London Police has now revealed.

“This is an extension of its intellectual property capability, based in the City, which is focussed on intellectual property crime, ranging from copyright offenses to fake goods.”

The unit (‘NWPIPCU’) will combat intellectual property crime in North West England, which has already seen fairly significant action against operators and other players in the pirate device and unlicensed IPTV markets. The unit says it will support existing partners in an effort to disrupt and prosecute existing and new offenders.

And work is already underway.

New Operation Targets IPTV Offenders

Following an investigation, NWPIPCU says that on Thursday March 4, it executed five warrants for IPTV offenses. This resulted in two arrests plus the seizure of electrical items, cash and counterfeit goods. While no further details have been revealed, actions of this type have become increasingly common in recent months.

Last June, Lancashire Police executed a search warrant at a house on Buckley Grove in the seaside resort of Lytham St Annes. Carried out under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, a 28-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the supply of pirate IPTV services and illegal TV streaming devices. High-end cars, expensive jewelry and designer clothes were also seized.

In December, the Lancashire Police Cyber Crime Unit announced it would begin sending warning letters to around 7,000 users of the raided service, warning them that they should stop watching pirate services or face the possibility of prosecution.

NWPIPCU Launch Welcomed By PIPCU and NWROC

“The world of intellectual property crime is constantly evolving and the formation of the North West Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit clearly demonstrates that police, Government and industry are committed to protecting the UK from both established and emerging threats, many of which are now operating from online platforms,” says Superintendent Pete Ratcliffe at City of London Police.

“Intellectual property crime costs our economy hundreds of millions of pounds a year and threatens thousands of jobs. The unit has ongoing investigations with an estimated potential loss to industry of £2.3m. Through launching the NWPIPCU, we are sending out a clear warning to organized crime groups that IP crime won’t be tolerated.”

Superintendent Paul Denn of the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit warns that yesterday’s action against those involved in illicit IPTV represents just the start of a series of operations aimed at discovering the true scale of the IP crime problem in the North West.

The launch of the unit set to carry those out is welcomed by Intellectual Property Office CEO Time Moss.

“We are delighted to be further strengthening our partnership with City of London Police and building a new one with North West Regional Organised Crime Unit,” Moss says.

“Effective collaboration is vital for success in combatting IP crime. We are excited about the vital role the new IP crime hub will play in supporting the already impressive capability of this partnership, helping to reduce counterfeit goods and copyright offenses in the north west.”

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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    Canada Court Asked to Ban Staples & Best Buy From Selling ‘Pirate’ Boxes / TorrentFreak · Wednesday, 3 March, 2021 - 20:48 · 3 minutes

Streaming Key In September 2019, Super Channel owner Allarco Entertainment filed a lawsuit in Canada’s Federal Court targeting Staples Canada, Best Buy Canada, London Drugs, Canada Computers, several related companies and up to 50,000 ‘John Doe’ customers.

The controversial legal action saw Allarco accuse the retailers and their staff of promoting, encouraging and instructing in the use of set-top boxes that could enable buyers to access copyright-infringing content.

The complaint was supported by 100 hours of undercover recordings that purported to show retailers’ staff showing prospective customers how to use software such as Kodi, or offering advice on where to get devices configured for piracy.

Allarco demanded an injunction to prevent the defendants from “communicating or facilitating the communication” of its works without permission, including by “configuring, advertising, offering for sale or selling Pirate Devices.”

Allarco Ends Federal Court Lawsuit, Launches Another

A month after the lawsuit was filed, Canadian lawyer Howard Knopf wrote that in nearly four decades of being an intellectual property lawyer, he had never seen a more unusual Statement of Claim.

He noted that it claimed copyright infringement in unspecified works, circumvention, making available, unspecified “pirate devices”, trademark infringement, the Criminal Code, through to theft, stealing, interference with the economic and business relations of the Plaintiff, and conspiracy.

After the retailers fought back, Allarco discontinued its Federal Court lawsuit on January 6, 2020. However, Allarco had already filed another similar lawsuit on December 6, 2019, this time at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta (Alberta’s superior court). The complaint added unknown suppliers of ‘pirate’ devices as defendants and demanded CAD$50m in damages.

“It’s too early to speculate about what Allarco will attempt to do and what the Court might let it do about the 50,000 John Doe Customers or the now added John Doe Suppliers and how their interests will be represented if things ever get anywhere near that far,” Knopf wrote at the time.

However, several months later, a new report indicates that matters are now progressing.

Allarco Demands ‘Pirate’ Set-Top Device Ban

Doubling down on its allegations of wrongdoing at the retailers, Allarco is now demanding an injunction from the Court that would prevent them from offering the set-top boxes for sale.

Whether the Court will find such a request reasonable in respect of devices that are used by millions to access entirely legal services such as Netflix is yet to be determined. Allarco, meanwhile, believes that people buy them for only one thing – piracy.

“The only reason why people buy these boxes is to steal content,” says Allarco president and chief executive officer Donald McDonald, as quoted by Globe and Mail.

Interestingly, in common with his counterparts right across the streaming industry, McDonald says that the ‘pirate’ devices – which are largely Android-based and imported from China – are often preloaded with malware that targets consumers and puts their security at risk.

“These devices are dangerous to your home network, dangerous to your personal data and could end up costing you a lot more money in the end,” he says, showing concern for the people his company is hoping to sue.

Retailers Deny The Allegations

Ever since the first lawsuit was filed in 2019, Staples Canada, Best Buy Canada, London Drugs, and Canada Computers have vigorously denied the Allarco/Super Channel allegations. All were reportedly sent cease-and-desist notices before the actions were filed but all claim to have acted within the law.

“We offer technology from reputable manufacturers and leading brands. We take claims of intellectual property infringement seriously, but we believe that Super Channel’s claims are without merit, and intend to defend this action vigorously,” an earlier Best Buy statement reads.

While Staples and Best Buy are opting not to comment at this stage, London Drugs said it would “never intentionally take or condone” any action that would infringe intellectual property rights.

“London Drugs has always respected the rights of content creators and holders of copyright in all forms. We sell products and provide services for many parties engaged in content creation and distribution and recognize and fully support their right to fair compensation,” the company says.

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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    Police Around Asia Crack Down on Pirate IPTV With Raids & Arrests / TorrentFreak · Saturday, 13 February, 2021 - 11:47 · 3 minutes

Streaming Key While pirate streaming operations around the United States and Europe attract the most headlines, unlicensed IPTV and similar platforms are now mainstream in most parts of the world.

Authorities in the West are tackling this problem using quiet ‘behind-the-scenes’ agreements through to civil litigation and criminal enforcement. The situation in Asia is similar and over the past couple of weeks a number of cases have been made public.

Police in Taiwan Arrest Nine

As reported by Japan-based anti-piracy group CODA , authorities in Taiwan carried out an operation through the latter part of January and early February targeting what is described as a “criminal organization” involved in the supply of illegal streams. With assistance from the prosecutor’s office, police, and detective agencies, officers arrested nine people.

Taiwan IPTV Raids

Taiwan established a dedicated team in early 2020 to tackle the illegal streaming of TV shows to pirate devices and since then 18 locations have been searched, resulting in the seizure of hundreds of set-top devices and computer servers. After analysis, it was found that some of the devices provided illegal access to broadcasts from Taiwan and Japan.

“It is believed that the criminal organization deciphered the broadcast signals of each major TV station through network servers installed in domestic telecommunications equipment rooms and sent them to infringing set-top devices via the Internet,” CODA reports.

Thai Police Raid Five Premises Linked to Illegal Streaming

Over the past several years Thailand’s Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has carried out numerous actions against individuals involved in the supply of pirate IPTV and similar streaming services.

Two Brits and a local were arrested in 2017 under suspicion of violating the rights of the Premier League and in 2019, DSI shut down the country’s most popular pirate site,, following a request from the Motion Picture Association.

Last weekend, the DSI unit was in action again, raiding five premises linked to the illegal movie streaming. According to Pol Lt Col Korawat, among the items seized were 100 receivers, decoders, satellite dishes, computers, notebooks, hard disks and mobile phones. It’s believed that the equipment was used to supply pirated movies and TV content to the website That site is currently down.

According to the Bangkok Post , the main players behind the streaming operation were not discovered during the raids and the authorities were only able to arrest technicians hired to run the operation. was reportedly founded in 2012 and was Thailand’s largest broadcaster of pirated movies and sport, including content owned by the Premier League.

Prosecution in Malaysia

Over in Malaysia, a company director behind the operation to supply ‘Long TV’ pirate TV devices to the public pleaded guilty on Monday. According to local reports, the individual was charged with selling the devices and breaching intellectual property rights last September.

“The company, located at I-City, Persiaran Multimedia, Section 7, Shah Alam, Selangor has violated Section 41(1)(ha) of the Copyright Act 1987 for selling any technology or device for the purpose of bypassing any effective technological measures stated under subsection 36A(3) of the same Act,” a statement from the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs reads.

According to the Ministry, the yet-to-be-named individual faces a fine of up to RM40,000 (around US$9,900) and a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Educational Initiatives in Japan

Last August, Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs, a body of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, hired Hello Kitty to become its Copyright Ambassador. Since then, local anti-piracy group CODA has been releasing educational content featuring the famous character in an effort to keep people away from sources of pirated content.

Masaharu Ina, CODA’s Director of Overseas Copyright Protection, recently sent TorrentFreak a new video to promote compliance with Japan’s brand new anti-piracy law along with a Hello Kitty quiz designed to test people’s knowledge of copyright.

The video is embedded below and the quiz can be found here .

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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    Xtream-Codes: We Have Nothing To Do With Resurrected IPTV System Xtream UI / TorrentFreak · Saturday, 9 January, 2021 - 11:27 · 5 minutes

IPTV In September 2019, the pirate IPTV market was thrown into turmoil when the Guardia di Finanza (GdF), an Italian law enforcement agency under the authority of the Minister of Economy and Finance, targeted Xtream-Codes as part of a huge law enforcement operation.

Xtream-Codes, which was operated by a Bulgarian company, was not a pirate IPTV service. What the company provided was a software services package that allowed people to manage their own IPTV reselling services and customers. This did not deter the Italian authorities from describing Xtream-Codes as a pirate operation.

While in complex cases the devil is often in the detail and may yet reveal an element of wrongdoing (or otherwise), Xtream-Codes itself was a tool that helped people manage IPTV services and from a technical perspective, it did not matter whether those services were legal or illegal. In the same way that torrent clients have the ability to download and distribute infringing content, like Xtream-Codes they may also be put to legitimate uses that do not involve piracy.

Since the authorities are staying tight-lipped on the important details of the case as the investigation continues, information regarding potential intent or complicity (or otherwise) has yet to enter the public domain. However, for the second time in two months the former operators of Xtream-Codes have broken their silence to complain that behind the scenes, justice isn’t being done.

Xtream Codes Denies Being Part of Xtream UI

In the wake of the Xtream-Codes shutdown, hundreds of entities involved in the supply of IPTV that also relied on the company’s software were left without the necessary tools to do their work. That left an immediate gap in the market for replacement panels such as those offered by Streaminy, Fastocloud, Ezhometech, and the interestingly-named Xtream UI.

Xtream UI appeared in the wake of Xtream Codes’ demise and carries broadly the same features, having been based on the Xtream-Codes panel software. Given the name and history of the base tool, it now appears that authorities in Italy are making connections between the original and its apparent successor. That’s according to the former operators of Xtream-Codes who say the authorities’ assertions are wrong.

“Once again we are forced to issue a statement regarding the judicial events that unfairly involve us. It emerged that the investigating authorities are comparing the name of Xtream-Codes to that of another company, called Xtream UI, deducing that we are continuing to operate under the name of the latter,” the company said in an announcement this week.


In an effort to sever the links, the company has reportedly instructed its lawyers to take legal action to prevent Xtream UI from using its name moving forward. There is currently no mention of action against entities that rely on elements of Xtream-Codes’ software to provide a similar service.

Xtream-Codes: We’re Not Serving the IPTV Market

Last November, when the company first spoke in public after the raids in 2019, Xtream-Codes condemned its characterization by the authorities as a pirate service. It also explained how it had worked with “international judicial authorities” in order to “stop the phenomenon of piracy, to identify and stop those who illegally used our platform.”

However, that work did not extend to cooperation with the authorities in Italy, who saw no difference between Xtream-Codes and a number of customers who used the platform to infringe copyright. In November, Xtream-Codes said that there was never any attempt at collaboration to “intercept” around a dozen abusive users, a number that now appears to have grown.

“We are involved in an unfair trial for the mere fact that about 20 users out of 4000 are accused of illegally using our software without our knowledge, despite the lawfulness of the software and the company, on whose dividends we obviously paid taxes to the state of Bulgaria, where we are based,” the platform’s former operators explained.

“Since we suffered the forced closure of our company, we have been forced to exit the market, both because we were fully confident that the obvious conclusion that Xtream-Codes is totally unrelated to the work of some of its users would emerge in a short timeframe, and because materially our economic and mental resources must necessarily be used in this unfair process that involves us.”

Why Hasn’t the IPTV Market Collapsed?

The picture painted by the authorities at the time of the raids in 2019 was that Xtream-Codes was vital to the pirate IPTV market, providing the necessary backbone to make it function. However, while traffic did indeed collapse in a big way immediately after the systems were taken down, recovery wasn’t far away.

Indeed, pirate IPTV services in 2020 were still being described by many rightsholders as a major threat and as Xtream-Codes quite rightly points out, its demise at the hands of the authorities doesn’t appear to have achieved much.

“Beyond the serious injustice that emerges from this information, it should however be noted that according to the thesis of the investigators, Xtream-Codes should be the backbone of the illegal IPTV market. Yet, we cannot help but notice, also thanks to what the media reported, that more than a year after the closure of Xtream-Codes, the illegal IPTV market seems more flourishing than ever,” the company noted.

“Could it be that Xtream-Codes, as well as any other company offering software similar to ours, is not the cause of the spread of the illegal IPTV market? Could it be that the investigators are following a totally wrong path that irremediably involves our company which could be considered a European excellence at the time of closure?

“Time will give us the answer to these questions. Meanwhile, we remain at the disposal of the investigating authorities and remain confident in the work of the judiciary,” the company concludes.

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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    Pirate IPTV Community Raises The Alarm Over Hacks and Extortion / TorrentFreak · Wednesday, 6 January, 2021 - 11:11 · 6 minutes

hacker Due to their nature, pirate IPTV service operators and resellers tend to operate in the shadows, cautiously guarding their own identities and those of their users.

Aside from the few cases where such entities find themselves targeted by legal action or even the police, exposure is a rare event. However, a couple of years ago a new threat emerged after several IPTV providers were targeted by a hacker.

High Profile Attacks Against Helix and PrimeStreams

Late 2019, we reported on a pair of attacks against two of the more recognizable IPTV brands on the market. Warning signs first appeared on the homepage of Helix Hosting, when the alleged hacker revealed that the provider had been given the option to pay a “small amount” in order to prevent all of his customers’ details from being leaked online.

On top, the hacker threatened to leak the personal details of at least one owner or staff member, along with their names, addresses, phone numbers and IP addresses. There was no question that this was a serious problem for Helix. But the hacker wasn’t happy with just a single target.

Just days later, PrimeStreams was under attack by the same person, who again demanded that a ransom be paid to prevent customer details from being leaked online. The amount was significant – $70k payable in bitcoin – but that was not the full extent of the attacks. Several other providers were targeted too, always with the same modus operandi but differing amounts.

TF previously received information on extortion demands down to around a single bitcoin, with the hacker appearing to tailor the amount based on the size of the provider or reseller’s customer base. What was clear, however, is that many attacks were going unreported in public, most probably due to the sensitive nature of the businesses being targeted.

New Warnings: More Hacks, More Extortion

With so many hacks appearing in a short space of time, those under attack began to suspect that a common vector was being exploited by the hacker. Very early on, at least one provider publicly suggested that billing software (provided by WHMCS Smarters and used by hundreds perhaps thousands of providers/sellers) could’ve been part of the problem.

A new announcement by a moderator of Reddit’s /r/IPTV community is now putting more meat on the bones that supports that theory while putting more worrying information into the public domain.

“Over the last couple years numerous IPTV providers were hacked by someone exploiting the WHMCS billing module. Some major providers paid up to $70k USD to the hacker and some of these exploits were covered on Torrent Freak. The hacker has probably hit at least 50 smaller IPTV providers, maybe more, that’s only the ones we know of, always asking for Bitcoin as a ransom,” the moderator reveals .

Also of interest is that the hacker reportedly caused damage to the sites in order to pile on more pressure to pay. But of course, those targeted didn’t have the luxury of seeking legal support or even protection from the police, so the extortion scheme continued and the pressure mounted for a while, before eventually tailing off.

Unfortunately, the hacker appears to have resumed his activities in recent months and members of the IPTV community are now pooling their resources to gather information on the individual and sound the alarm. The allegations coming out now are a concern, to say the least.

“He knows the IPTV business and has inside info that most wouldn’t,” the warning continues. “But here is the most important thing you should be aware of. He knows Smarters better than many. Ask yourself why.”

This theme, that the hacker could have some connection to Smarters, however obscure, continues with additional allegations that seem to suggest more than just a casual relationship.

“The [Reddit /r/iptv/] mod team has seen substantial evidence that points to this hacker being someone involved with Smarters, possibly on their staff, or related in some way to their operation. Seems to be a strong connection.”

“We are NOT accusing Smarters, but we urge you to use CAUTION if dealing with them especially if it involves server access. Don’t ever provide them passwords to your servers for any reason. He will know,” the warning adds.

WHMCS Smarters Responds to Allegations

Given the potential severity of the allegations, TorrentFreak contacted WHMCS Smarters for a response and a statement on whether the company would be prepared to carry out a security audit to check for any issues of concern.

Company owner Amanpreet Singh responded quickly, thanked us for bringing the matter to his attention, and assured us that he had discussed the matter with his team and had come up with several security recommendations.

– Always use a strong password and keep changing it after a few months
– Use the SSL (HTTPS): Always on HTTPS
– If you have WordPress installed at the front then ensure there are no unknown plugins
– Change your server Access Passwords once Smarters has finished the installation.
– File permissions should be accurate

In our initial contact, Singh told us that he wasn’t sure what more he could say, since he has no idea whether the allegations raised by the Reddit moderation team are true. In response, we again asked whether he would commit to carrying out a security audit within the company as part of an investigation.

“There is no chance of the hacker being involved with Smarters,” Singh informs TF.

“I have already discussed this with my team and there is nothing to be worried about at our end. My real brother and cousin brother and my one sister are working as team leaders and they are responsible for the installation and updating of billing panels.

“The second major thing is if we change the passwords then there is nothing to be worried about. I told my team to force the clients to change the password when the installation is done.”

Paying a Ransom Doesn’t Guarantee The Hacker Will Withdraw

Considering the very nature of blackmail, paying a ransom to a hacker may seem like a good idea at the time but when easily duplicated digital information is involved or attack vectors remain available, there’s no guarantee that a hacker will honor his or her side of the bargain. Indeed, according to the Reddit moderator (who has good connections in the IPTV community), paying up may not be the end of the story.

“Don’t pay the hacker if he hacks your site cuz it won’t do you any good. He has hit many people several times. Comes back for more, too. It’s no guarantee that he won’t leak your info if you pay him,” he adds.

“Don’t pay this asshole if he hits you. [By the way] he can hack the newest WHMCS version if you give Smarters any server passwords. You were warned.”

Finally, it’s claimed that members of the IPTV community have additional evidence up their collective sleeves but are holding back from publishing now, in order to protect sensitive information. However, they aren’t ruling out revealing that in the future, if the hacker persists.

In response to the report of additional information being available, Singh is offering his help, should IPTV providers need it.

“If they have particular evidence then I would ask [them] to share it with me then I can help [them] with it more,” he concludes.

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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    Pirate IPTV Won’t Be Stopped in 2021 But User Fatigue Could Be Crucial / TorrentFreak · Saturday, 2 January, 2021 - 10:16 · 4 minutes

IPTV During December, on the day world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua was preparing to retain all three of his belts by defeating Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev at Wembley, someone looking to watch the fight cheaply asked which pirate IPTV service would be the best to choose.

From the discussions seen by TF, this person had already subscribed to a package with another provider. However, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, after handing over money to that supplier and receiving the login details, all that appeared on the screen was…well…nothing. It was blank, no EPG, and certainly no picture.

Faced with a seller that had suddenly decided to stop responding to support questions by email, the person was directed to a Discord channel. With no experience of Discord, this additional hurdle for an individual with a busy schedule and a small child was an unneeded hassle. Nevertheless, after working out how to get Discord working and getting advice through the channel, support was forthcoming.

Initial advice suggested that his Internet service provider may be blocking the service. This is common in the UK so the customer was advised to sign up to a VPN, which in the vast majority of cases circumvents ISP blocking and allows access to the service. The increasingly frustrated user was provided with instructions to install the VPN on a Amazon Firestick or similar set-top device, but as the owner of straightforward smart TV, didn’t have the suggested hardware.

Reaching a point where he “couldn’t be bothered” to jump through any more hoops, the customer sought out a new IPTV provider, which according to online forums had performed well in the past. However, it transpired this service also required a VPN but was offering a workaround to exploit a VPN provider’s free trial.

Nevertheless, a Firestick or similar was still advised and several hours later, after obtaining one and installing the necessary software, the service was up and running, ready for the fight. As things turned out, everything ran without a hitch but the hoops jumped through to get there were certainly noted.

Messing around for hours on a Saturday in preparation for a 45-minute fight isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. Not to mention that it took not one but two IPTV subscriptions to get the desired result. Add in that the free VPN ‘trick’ no longer works and it’s not hard to see how some people (albeit not all) might be put off by the experience.

Indeed, if we switch around the circumstances a little and sprinkle on some creative license, this doesn’t sound a million miles away from the hoops that some legitimate providers require their customers to jump through in order to watch an event. If we add in all the of the pirate costs, presuming they aren’t to be spread over future viewing experiences, there aren’t many savings either.

Of course, more seasoned IPTV pirates would’ve already had their ducks in a row. They’ll have done all of the research, have a couple of providers to choose from, the necessary hardware already, plus a VPN kicking around that could be put to further use. But for the more casual or one-off type user, none of this represents a particularly streamlined or enjoyable experience.

This state of play is largely due to the disruption activities of copyright holders and the authorities. Where once it was simply a case of visiting a website, signing up, paying and watching, accessing an IPTV service today is a much more complicated affair.

More public services, with a website and the option to pay simply by PayPal, for example, are much rarer. Indeed, it is widely believed that these sellers and resellers are likely to attract negative attention much more quickly, and that certainly isn’t conducive to a long-term business relationship for anyone involved.

On the other hand, those with more secure operational setups, with contact only available through invite-only chat channels and payments accepted only via cryptocurrencies, may prove to be much more reliable and durable. However, these present a whole new set of barriers to entry, ones that are likely to put off novices, casual customers, and/or those with less time on their hands.

With the majority of users falling into these categories, it’s not hard to make the connection between various anti-piracy strategies, enforcement actions, and other disruption activities favored by the police, for example. All of these entities are under no illusions that piracy can be easily stopped. However, with strategies that are designed to disrupt in any number of ways, the aim is to create enough irritation and inconveniences among customers that cause costs to rise and valuable time to be expended.

Somewhere along the way, it’s possible that the pirate business proposition starts to feel less of a bargain. Couple that with reduced prices and more convenience for official offerings and the gap closes further still. None of this may be enough to make pirate IPTV a thing of the past but with competition in the form of disruption and more sensible pricing, the playing field could improve for rightsholders in 2021.

Until the next set of pirate innovations, of course.

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more. We have some good VPN deals here for the holidays.

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    Police “Seize” Pirate IPTV Platform, Prepare to Identify 50,000 Users / TorrentFreak · Tuesday, 22 December, 2020 - 07:41 · 2 minutes

IPTV While rightsholders and authorities all around the world are working to disrupt pirate IPTV platforms, in 2020 Italian law enforcement entities have been more involved than most.

Every few weeks agencies including the Guardia di Finanza have announced fresh action to try and reduce the use of piracy-enabled set-top devices, often referred to by the term ‘pezzotto’.

New Legal Action Against 50,000-User IPTV Platform

According to an announcement by the Provincial Command of the Guardia di Finanza of Milan, an operation coordinated by the Public Prosecutor of Milan has resulted in the “preventative seizure” of an IPTV platform through which more than 50,000 users were accessing TV content without permission.

The name of the platform hasn’t been directly released by the authorities but a video claiming to show aspects of ‘Operation: The Net’ shows the URL (currently down) apparently involved in IPTV.

Considering sports broadcasters are some of the entertainment companies hardest hit by the proliferation of piracy-enabled devices, it is no surprise that the action follows preliminary investigations carried out by Sky Italia and football league Serie A.

These entities filed complaints with the authorities, triggering an investigation by the Milan Economic-Financial Police Unit and the Computer Crimes Team of the local Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Large Pirate IPTV Operation Uncovered

“Subsequent investigations revealed the existence of an interconnected organization, operating in different regions of the national territory, dedicated to the sale and distribution of decoding devices suitable for allowing access to the IPTV encrypted service to enjoy television content, without payment of the applicable fees,” GdF’s statement reads.

GdF IPTV Seizure Notice GdF IPTV Seized

According to the law enforcement entity, the investigation against the platform was made more complex due to the suspects’ use of VPNs to “anonymize communications”.

Nevertheless, three individuals have now been reported to the prosecutor’s office for breaches of Art. 171 of Italy’s Copyright Law, which for criminal infringements can mean fines and/or imprisonment.

Serie A Welcomes Action, Warns Subscribers

“We are extremely satisfied with the results we are achieving in synergy with the Public Prosecutor’s Office in the field of combating audiovisual piracy. The work carried out has completed an operation of great importance,” says Serie A CEO Luigi De Siervo.

According to Siervo, after identifying those at the top of the “criminal organization” with the assistance of anti-piracy company Digital Content Protection , attention is now being turned to the people who subscribed to the illegal service.

“It is a further step forward in our daily battle because thanks to the seizure of the database of these criminals, the final users are being identified who will, in turn, be reported and prosecuted with penalties ranging from 2,500 to 25,000 euros,” the Serie A chief warned.

Whether this threat will be carried out at scale will remain to be seen but Italy has already shown a willingness this year to go after pirate IPTV subscribers. In February, the Guardia di Finanza said it had reported 223 subscribers of pirate IPTV services to the judicial authorities.

This latest operation against the 50,000-subscriber platform follows on the heels of two others involving Italian authorities in recent months.

In September, the Guardia di Finanza said that 58 sites and 18 Telegram channels had been blocked for their involvement in pirate IPTV. Then last month, a massive law enforcement operation (“The Perfect Storm”) carried out across Europe reportedly shut down 5,500 servers used to stream pirated TV broadcasts, live sports, and movies to the public.

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more. We have some good VPN deals here for the holidays.

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    Xtream-Codes Breaks Silence 14 Months After Historic IPTV Anti-Piracy Raids / TorrentFreak · Tuesday, 17 November, 2020 - 17:24 · 6 minutes

IPTV For broadcasters all over the world, the problem of unlicensed IPTV providers, suppliers, and resellers has only grown during the past few years.

Despite many law enforcement actions, it has remained trivial for consumers to buy subscription packages to access the majority of pay TV channels, PPV events, and VOD content. Last year, however, authorities across Europe took coordinated action to deliver what they hoped would be the most significant blow yet.

Operation Targeting Xtream-Codes

In September 2019, the Guardia di Finanza (GdF), an Italian law enforcement agency under the authority of the Minister of Economy and Finance, revealed that a huge operation was underway to dismantle, among other things, the software service known as Xtream-Codes.

What was unique about this particular action is that Xtream Codes itself wasn’t an IPTV provider. The company behind the software/system offered a comprehensive package that allowed people to manage their own IPTV reselling service and associated customers. It was also registered as a company in Bulgaria and had a local VAT number.

Nevertheless, Italian authorities portrayed Xtream-Codes as a pirate operation, one fully deserving of being shut down to face criminal charges.

For more than a year after the demise of Xtream-Codes, things went almost completely quiet. Until last week, that is, when another massive series of raids were carried out, again at the behest of Italian authorities and again making references to Xtream-Codes.

700 Law Enforcement Officers Shut Down 5,500 IPTV Resources

As previously reported , last week the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation (Eurojust), announced that 700 police officers had been deployed in 11 countries, shutting down around 5,500 servers and other resources related to pirate IPTV.

The reports were echoed by Itay’s GdF, which claimed that as part of the operation (codenamed ‘The Perfect Storm’) it had managed to discover the identities of “over 50 million users” of pirate IPTV services.

While neither announcement mentioned Xtream-Codes by name, when the platform was shut down last year the exact same number of users was mentioned as being connected to the IPTV management system, one that the Italian authorities had already labeled a major pirate service.

It now transpires that after more than a year of maintaining their silence, the people behind Xtream-Codes have had enough.

Xtream-Codes Breaks Its Silence

Earlier today, the previously silenced Xtream-Codes (XTC) portal suddenly produced a lengthy statement in Italian. Its purpose, according to its authors, is to dispel false claims made about the company’s operations after the huge events of last week.

“The company had been in the software development business since 2015 and until its closure, operated worldwide. Proof of this is the great success of users who used the XTC platform and to whom our heartfelt thanks go, who have recognized our product as the best performing tool on the market, in the field of IPTV software,” it begins.

“Over the years we have received many recognitions and awards for our work from the entire IT community, not least XTC has been recognized as one of the 1000 fastest-growing companies in Europe.”

Noting that the company passed “the legality test” in the USA, XTC notes that it registered for the NAB Show in Las Vegas, an annual trade show produced by the National Association of Broadcasters. That event did not go ahead as planned in April 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic but XTC says that as a company it faced additional problems of its own.

“First of all, the first key concept must be clarified: XTC IS AGAINST PIRACY,” the team insists.

“The hard work carried out in recent years, however, risks being thwarted by the legal events that have arisen in Italy in which the name of XTC, without any foundation, is compared to a criminal association dedicated to the piracy of copyrighted content.”

Xtream-Codes: We Are Against Piracy

The Xtream-Codes system itself could be put to legal uses just as easily as it could illegal uses, since it’s only the licensing status of the content being delivered that makes any difference to its standing. However, in common with software like uTorrent in the BitTorrent scene, Xtream-Codes was well known in IPTV piracy circles simply because it was used by pirate IPTV providers and by extension, many end-users.

All of that being said, it may surprise those who deployed the software in a commercial sense or utilized it in their homes that XTC now claims that it has been working with law enforcement for some time.

“Over the years, XTC has always collaborated with international judicial authorities in order to stop the phenomenon of piracy, to identify and stop those who illegally used our platform. Those judicial authorities, in their sacrosanct activities to combat crime, have always started from the right assumption, which is also the second key concept of the story: THE XTC PLATFORM IS AN ABSOLUTELY LEGAL SOFTWARE,” the company says.

“For these authorities, there has never been any doubt about the lawfulness of the XTC platform, but they have focused their attention, rightly, on the distorted use that some users have made of it and in such cases, XTC has always shown itself to be collaborative in combatting crime.”

Authorities in Italy Saw Things Rather Differently

Unfortunately for XTC, however, the authorities in Italy reportedly saw things in a different light. According to XTC, there was never any attempt to cooperate with the platform to tackle a reported minority of users who abused its systems.

“[The authorities] have never attempted to interact with XTC to try to intercept the dozen users, among the more than 2500 who counted the platform before closing, who used it illegally. XTC was in fact equated to that ten or so subjects, even placing it at the top of this criminal association,” the company complains.

XTC says that in September 2019 it was shut down and also blocked by all ISPs in Italy, a decision accepted on the basis that the truth would soon come out. However, a year on XTC says it is now suffering due to claims that it has been carrying on its business under alternative branding.

“Today, after about a year, XTC is burdened with further very strict precautionary measures, which cannot be reported here for reasons of confidentiality, since some say we are continuing our business under a different name.

“For this infamous affirmation, devoid of any foundation, once again XTC has had to suffer serious consequences, primarily in terms of reputation, which we have built with so much effort over the years,” the company complains.

Criticism of the Press and Authorities

Given the technical nature of a system like Xtream-Codes and the tendency of the mainstream media to take reports by the authorities at face value, it came as no real surprise when many publications took the information they had been provided last year and extrapolated it.

XTC says it remains very disappointed with much of the reporting, which failed to acknowledge that its systems and software only managed IPTV streams and the company did not provide any content itself. The overall intent of XTC, of course, is something to be determined at trial but in the meantime, the company feels it has been poorly treated.

“IPTV is the future and it is very sad that we have been forced to stop for no good reason. It is as if the Italian authorities are trying to spread the message that IPTV software is illegal. For this reason, we have decided to break the silence and denounce the heavy harassment we are undergoing both as XTC and personally, with the awareness that, after this story, to which we are total strangers, nothing will be the same as before.

“But, as someone said ‘soon the time of honors will be over’ and what is seriously assumed at this stage by the investigating bodies must be proven before the Italian judiciary, in which XTC places its utmost and unconditional trust,” the XTC team adds.

Hoping for an outcome in its favor, the company says it has suffered “incalculable damage” due to the actions against it but is now promising that when the truth does come out, it will be “filing a bill” to recoup its losses.

From: TF , for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.