Despite warnings from the police, hundreds of thousands of people watched the Anthony Joshua vs Joseph Parker unification bout illegally using services like Kodi.
Cyber security firm Irdeto says it managed to detect 339 illegal streams of the fight. 207 of these could be found through social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Periscope and Twitch, the firm says. Those alone reached around 225,804 viewers.
The firm found another 71 pirate streams using illicit Kodi addons, and says it came across 180 ads for illicit streaming devices offering Joshua vs Parker on e-commerce websites like eBay and Gumtree, on just one day in the week leading up to the fight.
Irdeto believes its findings show that more work needs to be done to combat illegal streams around major sporting events, and that social media is proving particularly troublesome.
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The police have issued a warning to anybody hoping to stream Saturday night’s Anthony Joshua fight illegally, flagging up the risks and potential dangers associated with piracy.
Joshua is taking on New Zealander Joseph Parker at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, with the showdown likely to draw in hundreds of thousands of viewers.
It’s being shown on Sky Sports Box Office but, as is typical with high-profile sporting events, there’ll be plenty of people looking to catch a slice of the action for free, through Kodi addons, dodgy streams and live broadcasts on social media.
The City of London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) is trying to keep people on the straight and narrow, by highlighting some of the potential downsides of illegal streaming.
“The Anthony Joshua fight is just one in numerous high profile sporting events each year, but don’t let your eagerness to tune in make you commit a crime,” said Detective Inspector Nick Court.
“By using illegal streaming sites you can open yourself up to several risks; some set-top boxes do not go through rigorous electrical testing and are therefore at risk of catching fire or giving electric shocks. By using legitimate providers these risks can easily be avoided. Watch it live, watch it legally.”
The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) is also warning legitimate viewers against “misusing” their TV subscriptions.
It says customers found to be illegally sharing paid-for content − by re-streaming it online for others to watch, for instance − can not only have their subscription account terminated, but also expect to be fined or even prosecuted.
“FACT works closely with broadcasters and rights owners who employ a variety of techniques to identify the original source of illegally re-streamed content,” Kieron Sharp, the CEO of FACT, told Trusted Reviews.
“With the support from law enforcement, government and the creative industries we are tightening the net on the criminals behind illegal streams. Consumers need to be aware that not only is illegal streaming breaking the law, it can carry serious consequences for the end user. From malware and scams to potential fines, it’s not worth the risk.”
A Sky Sports customer was ordered to pay legal costs of over £16,000 last year, after he was caught re-streaming content online. He also had to disclose details about the money he made and people he colluded with, and pay Sky damages.
“Whether it’s a re-stream on social media, a piracy site, or using a device, box or stick connected to your TV, avoiding the official provider to access the fight is illegal,” Sharp added.
“It is getting harder and harder to watch live sport illegally and so boxing fans should be aware that if they were planning to watch the fight this way they are breaking the law.”
Weighing in on the matter, Neil Parkes from law firm Foot Anstey commented: “Anthony Joshua will take to the ring again this weekend, but fans need to be aware that it is illegal to share a stream of the fight, even if you have paid to watch it. Many of those who have illegally shared previous fights on social media have been subject to legal action and been required to pay thousands of pounds in legal costs – don’t become one of them.”
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