How is the electronic communications sector in Central and Eastern Europe addressing the problem of piracy?
Late last year I wrote a column about IPTV piracy in the region in which I referred to the findings of an independent study published by the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA) and undertaken by the UK’s Bournemouth University. This provided a Europe-wide view on rates of piracy but did not delve deeply into CEE other than by saying that IPTV piracy in the region was lower than elsewhere on the continent.
Piracy is certainly a major problem in CEE and being tackled in many ways. In one of the most significant developments in recent months, United Media, the media arm of United Group, joined the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) late last year.
ACE is a global association whose sole aim is combat piracy, while United Media operates in Southeast Europe, where illegal streaming is on the rise. Indeed, in one country alone – Greece – pirate subscription-based streaming services are accessed by over 750,000 people, or roughly 7% of the population.
By joining ACE, whose other members include Netflix, Disney, Canal+, Comcast, Disney, HBO and Netflix, United Media believes it will be in a stronger position to address the problem of piracy.
Another way is by tackling the problem head on, working with law enforcement and then publicising your successes. In Russia, the country’s leading pay-TV operator Tricolor makes a point of regularly informing the public of actions it has taken against pirates.
Meanwhile in Poland, the anti-piracy body Signal, whose members include Canal+ Polska, also makes its successes public. In mid-March, for instance, it informed us that it had managed to close down Zalukaj.vip, one of the country’s largest pirate sites.
Elsewhere, special mention should be made of Ukraine, where even in time of war the anti-piracy initiative Clean Sky has managed to keep up its activities by initiating a number of criminal proceedings.
Cooperation and novel ideas are also very much on the agenda. In the Czech Republic, for instance, the broadcasters Nova, Prima and Ocko reached an agreement last November aimed at minimising the amount of their content that is shared illegally online. Two months earlier, the Hungarian Communications Association (MKSZ) suggested using legal DDOS attacks to address the problem of linear broadcasting and VOD piracy.
Clearly there is still much work to be done before piracy is brought under control in CEE. There is nevertheless a strong desire to do so and hopefully this will continue in the future.
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