There were a number of powerful lessons to be drawn from an extraordinary conference on content protection held in Warsaw earlier this week.
The first, when tackling piracy, is that one of the most effective approaches is to “follow the money”. This will almost certainly lead you to the perpetrators of the crime. The second, and one that is often ignored, is that piracy is often linked to other, more serious crimes. The third, and perhaps most obvious, is that international cooperation is indispensable.
The conference, entitled International Content Protection Summit 2018 and organised by Poland’s Sygnal Association, provided what was effectively a one-day crash course on the scale and problems of piracy in Europe and the ways it is fought in a number of countries. The latter included the main territories in Central and Eastern Europe, along with Denmark, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands. A wider perspective, focused on the MENA region, was also provided by the DTH operator OSN.
Two of the most memorable presentations were given by serving officers of the Spanish National Police and Italy’s Guardia di Finanza, all in uniform. The former discussed at length an operation that has so far led to the seizure of over €11 million. It also uncovered the first ever instance in Europe in which criminals had created, controlled and funded forums to provide customers with freeware.
The latter operation, led by Rome police, took three years, covered four countries and involved 49 reported subjects, five of whom are under arrest. Seizures included 700 decoders, over 400 smart cards and €114,000 in cash.
Noteworthy presentations at the conference were also provided by executives from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), Motion Picture Association (MPA) and Warner Bros Entertainment.
Speaking to Broadband TV News at the end of the conference, Teresa Wierzbowska, the president of the management board at Sygnal Association, said that while Poland partly shared the same problems as other countries, it also has some specific ones.
Furthermore, while streaming is the main technical form of illegal distribution, there are the first signs of IPTV, which is prevalent in Western Europe.
She added that when it comes to regulations Poland is one of the few countries in the EU that haven’t implemented European Directives, with the government arguing that there is no need to. However, this doesn’t work in practice. There is also no web blocking in Poland yet and while “we hope we will join other countries in its implementation, it could take years”.
Wierzbowska said that despite this Sygnal thinks positively about the future. She also reflected on the way it has totally changed the environment in the fight against piracy in Poland in the last 2-3 years. This has seen the adoption of the follow the money strategy, now also being replicated in Ukraine; close cooperation with the police; and dissuading leading advertisers from using pirate sites.