In a collaborative operation with Europol, Eurojust, Spanish specialised computer crimes prosecutors, Premier League and Irdeto, 12 locations were raided in Spain and Bulgaria. Dubbed “Operation Casper,” eight individuals were arrested for the illegal distribution of 1,000 pay-TV channels across two ISPs through the use of IPTV technology. The servers used to provide illegal access to the channels were shut down and numerous documents incriminating the individuals under investigation were also confiscated.
The investigation was initiated by the Premier League as part of a global effort to combat illegal online redistribution of its live broadcasts. Irdeto identified a Danish citizen residing in Spain who owned an ISP in Málaga used to illegally broadcast encrypted TV signals to thousands of consumers and businesses across Europe. It was discovered that this individual was the leader of a criminal organization that was able to provide a high-quality pirate service rivalling offerings from legal operators. Operation Casper also uncovered another illegal organization located in Silistra, Bulgaria that was operated by the same criminal network who had another internet provider in that location covering different European countries. Both of the ISPs identified were legally established, performing legal activities while also exploiting their capacities to provide illegal services.
Commenting on the development, Kevin Plumb, director of legal services, Premier League, said: “These actions are just one part of the largest anti-piracy campaign the Premier League has conducted to protect its copyright.
“The raids in Spain and Bulgaria by the Spanish Police and law enforcement agencies are a clear indication that IPTV piracy will not be tolerated. Our model, like other sports and creative industries, is predicated on the ability to market and sell rights and protect our intellectual property. It is because of this that clubs can invest in and develop talented players, build world class stadiums, and support young people in schools and communities across the country.”
Engaged by the Premier League for piracy detection and investigative services, Irdeto’s team of experts worked closely with the Premier League, Spanish National Police and law enforcement agencies to gather information and evidence leading to the raid. This information resulted in the 12 simultaneous raids in Spain and Bulgaria, proving that both ISPs were illegally distributing pirated content. The disbanded criminal organisation also controlled three other entities that provided the content to its customers.
Mark Mulready, senior director, Cyber Services & Investigations at Irdeto, added: “The efforts of the Spanish Police and law enforcement to dismantle pirate organisations like this is critical in the fight against IPTV piracy.
“We continue to support our customers, partners and law enforcement agencies to identify large-scale cross-border pirate networks and help combat piracy. By detecting, analysing, investigating and countering piracy, our collaborative efforts send a message to the pirate community that they will be found and brought to justice.”