Year in Review: The Fight Against Piracy in 2022

2022 – what a year it’s been in the world of content security. The post-pandemic landscape and related economic realities have helped generate some significant shifts in the way that everyone consumes video, and pirates have responded – but so have we, those who are committed to bringing an end to content theft. While we can’t report on all of the greatest success stories this year (we are privacy experts for our customers as well as piracy experts), we can say it’s been a year of growth, evolution, and a substantial number of legal successes – something we are very proud to acknowledge for the industry.

This year, Friend MTS has monitored and policed the largest televised or broadcast events on the planet, from the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup to the brilliant Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Women’s Euros, the Premier League, National Hockey League, and not to mention the 40-odd major boxing and wrestling events that took place this year alone. Of course, a busy year of live sports means a busy year for those who steal and redistribute them, but the industry has been fighting back, with some impressive results.

For example, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland seized 55 separate websites for live-streaming the World Cup games, an infringement of FIFA copyrights. This seizure meant that visitors to these popular illicit sites were greeted with a message that the sites had been shut down by the federal government, before being redirected to another site for additional information. Millions of monthly visitors used these websites for streaming pirated content illegally, so this was a huge leap forward in the fight against pirates and a great way to end the year for FIFA.

In the Middle East, Jordan’s Department of National Library (DNL) and beIN Media had a successful pursuit in combating piracy in Amman, Jordan – enabling a raid against a local electronics retailer across multiple branches to seize illegal IPTV boxes. It’s thought that several hundred were likely to have been sold in November ahead of the FIFA World Cup this year. In Malaysia with a landmark ruling by the High Court of Malaya legal action was taken against a pub and restaurant for showing content on their premises without a legitimate commercial broadcast subscription. And in Singapore, the High Court was commended for blocking 30 illegal streaming sites and 150 associated domains – the biggest victory the Asia Video Industry Association’s Coalition Against Piracy (CAP) has received to date.

Meanwhile, a successful Europol-coordinated operation in Europe shut down 12,526 websites, disconnected 32 servers used to distribute and host illegal content for 2,294 television channels, and shut down 15 online shops of intellectual property crimes in a six-month period. But more work still needs to be done to end piracy in Europe. Industries of broadcasters, sports and culture in the EU have been calling out for legislation for real-time blocking and removal of illegal live streams. While the European Commission announced in October a recommendation in its next policy programme, a non-binding text for new European-wide legislation, it’s been acknowledged that it’s not enough to tackle live content piracy. We will keep an eye on legislation changes for content protection in Europe and further afield as we move into 2023 and beyond.

2022 has seen some exciting changes within Friend MTS too. The partnership with private equity firm, NorthEdge that we announced in September has allowed us to continue the expansion of our portfolio of video content security SaaS solutions, and we’ve welcomed a number of new customers who are joining us in the fight to protect content. As mentioned, UEFA appointed Friend MTS in April to provide anti-piracy services for major UEFA competitions, and broadcasting leaders such as Sky and United Media continued working with us to provide anti-piracy services across Europe and the UK. We formed a new partnership with the developer of multi-component communication platforms, EIMEX, allowing us to open our services to even more companies in need of content protection, such as those within the corporate space. Now, we are able to offer secure communications and protection of valuable assets to companies that use video to present sensitive information, intellectual property or other proprietary content across the virtual experience using forensic watermarking – a step in a different direction that we’re certainly excited to share.

Finally, at Friend MTS, we wanted to celebrate our amazing teams, who continue to provide the gold standard in content protection services to our customers. We’re continuing to add incredible talent with years of industry experience, to join our existing army of experts on our mission, and to develop the most cutting-edge content security and anti-piracy solutions available.

The fight against content piracy continues, but the issue is becoming even more visible, and methods to combat it more widely deployed. As we move into the new year and beyond, Friend MTS remains committed to providing the critical tools and services that will continue to detect, deter and disrupt the efforts of those who think it’s fine to steal and profit from the hard work of others.

The 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar is drawing to a close, and the England team are on their way home (still a great [...]

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