Piracy war a lost cause with apathetic decision makers

The Premier League has launched the second phase of its Boot Out Piracy campaign in Malaysia and Hong Kong.

And nothing will happen. The end.

This is the harsh reality. Premier League and its broadcasters know about it. All they can do is offer words of optimism. That’s it.

The anti-piracy campaign launched in collaboration with Malaysia broadcaster Astro and Hong Kong’s PCCW Ltd, will continue to highlight the dangers illegal streams pose to fans – from data theft to malicious malware, poor viewing experience, blah blah blah, ZZzzzzzzzz.

Premier League director of legal services Kevin Plumb was quoted in a press statement recently as saying: “We will continue working with our broadcast partners to fight piracy and disrupt illegal streams. However, we want to ensure supporters really understand that piracy is not only illegal but also brings with it many risks.”

“Illegal streaming also means missing out on watching high-definition games in real time with expert commentary and insights from players and managers. We want fans to enjoy the best Premier League viewing experience possible via official broadcast channels, not via broken and delayed illegal sources which also bring with them a great risk of malicious malware and ransomware.”

A whole lot of words from Plumb. Nothing new.

If the Premier League wants this to work, there’s only one way of saying it: Laws surrounding piracy and its enforcement in Malaysia suck big time.

Android boxes are easily available in shopping malls, offering thousands of channels, including those airing football matches. They are sold openly, yet little has been done to clamp down on the sellers or those bringing such devices into the country.

Some argue that such campaigns have been successful as a number of illegal streaming sites have been shut down. Also, it’s not a problem exclusive to Malaysia as other nations are also facing a tough time combating piracy.

Shut one illegal website down and five more will appear. Raid one stall selling Android boxes, many other operators continue to sell with no fear. Android boxes are also sold on online shopping platforms.

According to:

  • Piracy-tracking firm Muso, traffic to illegal streaming and download sites rose by nearly 60 per cent in the UK in March – at the time when nations imposed lockdowns. The firm revealed there were over 300 million visits to piracy sites in the UK and more than one billion in the US.
  • The Charting Global Sports Piracy report by Ampere Analysis on behalf of video software provider Synamedia, found 51 per cent still use pirated services to watch live sports on a monthly basis, despite 89 per cent of respondents owning a subscription to a pay TV or over-the-top (OTT). platform.

However, it should also be noted that:

  • In September, it was reported that the number of Malaysian consumers accessing piracy websites over the past 12 months decreased 64 per cent. According to a survey commissioned by the Asia Video Industry Association’s Coalition Against Piracy and conducted by YouGov, 22 per cent of online consumers currently use piracy streaming websites or torrent websites to view pirated content, substantially less than the 61 per cent findings in a similar survey in August last year. There was also a 61 per cent reduction in the number of consumers who use an illicit streaming device compared to last year’s survey.
  • In August, over 60 servers were taken down in North America, Europe and Asia with several people linked to piracy arrested.

Broadcasters in Malaysia have been subjected to piracy for decades. Some 20 years ago, pirated VCDs and DVDs were the threat. Every latest movie or album was easily available at the local night market (pasar malam). Some even set up shop, even in affluent areas like Bangsar – a testament that it was about the thrill of not paying for what the movie or album was really worth.

Today, there’s the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and Sirim-certified Long TV – an Internet television box that also shows Astro channels among many others.

The advancement of technology saw pirated VCDs and DVDs replaced by torrents and free streaming sites. The powers-that-be claim they can only do so much as the IP addresses are based abroad.

There also seem to be various agencies and ministries, including the Communication and Multimedia Ministry and the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs that are responsible for keeping piracy and related activities in check.

But they find no problem blocking access to certain sites.

Recently, the MCMC investigated parody account BERMANA and reported it to Twitter. Subsequently, the account was shut but the folks behind BERMANA returned as Bawangmana. Anyone would know that BERMANA and national news agency Bernama are different entities.

Malaysians, including civil servants, find BERMANA hilarious and most of the time, it was an ironic reflection of reality.

There are adequate laws that can be further strengthened and evolved in tandem with technology. It boils down to enforcement and willpower.

Sadly, such matters are often seen as unimportant by the decision makers.

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