LaLiga wins piracy battle as Danish court rules ISPs must block illegal streams

July 6 – The war on global piracy has seen a new battle win for LaLiga who, working with the Danish Rights Alliance, have won a court ruling that pirate service Rojadirecta is illegal and must be blocked by Danish ISPs.

Rojadirecta has grown into a leading live-sports streaming channel. It covers up its illegal streaming globally with some content that it does obtain legally.

This was the basis of the legal argument put forward by Puerto 80 Projects SLU, that operates Rojadirecta. However, it is the premium live matches from LaLiga that drive the pirate operator’s revenues and the Danish court ruled that a service dedicated to illegal activities is illegal – whether it has some legal content or not.

It is an important ruling, not just for the Danish market but also because it sends a number of messages to broadcasters and rights buyers that rights holders will act to protect their rights and their value in a market where buyers are warning of price reductions.

The timing is particularly appropriate following the ruling by the World Trade Organisation’s decision that the beoutQ channels are pirate services supported by the Saudi Arabian authorities. That decision comes a little late for the 300+ beIN Sport staff who lost their jobs in the wake of the industrial scale theft of rights by beoutQ, but the Danish legal ruling does show how governments and legal systems can protect the rights owners and the broadcast business from criminal activity. It will be interesting to see which governments follow the Danish lead in this regard.

Maria Fredenslund from the Danish Rights Alliance, said: “Practically, this means that there is now access to block services that offer illegal tv and live sports. This is a hugely important development, especially for broadcasters who at great expense pays for exclusive rights to sports content.”

A recent survey estimates that 250,000 Danes used illegal TV services in 2018 – making the country one of the highest ranking countries in the EU in terms of usage of illegal TV.

Claus Thomsen, director of the Danish League: “We negotiate exclusive broadcasting rights to the Danish Superliga championships, but the rights lose all value if the matches are streamed for free elsewhere, and therefore it is absolutely crucial that we can put an end to the illegal streaming going forward.”

Rojadirecta had 19,000 Danish visitors in just one month, giving them access to stolen matches from LaLiga’s Premiera. Melcior Soler, Audiovisual Director at LaLiga, said: “The industry must continue to fight audiovisual piracy worldwide. This achievement encourages us to continue and reaffirms our position that piracy is a scourge not only for LaLiga but for all of football. LaLiga will keep investing in technology to fight piracy and defending the audiovisual rights of LaLiga and its clubs.”

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