A significant effort to fight against audiovisual piracy has been made by LaLiga over the past five years. The league’s Technological Protection of Content department works nationally and internationally to develop the latest digital innovations in order to give LaLiga an edge in this battle. Having become a worldwide leader in the movement against piracy, these tools and digital services are helping LaLiga and other rights holders to assist with detection, analysis and reporting.
Given that Spain’s professional football industry led to the creation of around 185,000 jobs and generates around 15.688 billion euros for the Spanish economy, based on data from the 2016/17 season, it is clear that the illegal broadcasting of LaLiga matches is harmful to the Spanish economy as a whole. With so many people relying on Spanish football for their livelihoods it is vitally important that LaLiga protects this industry.
With more than 360,000 videos having been reported, 97.4% of which were taken down on social media sites, LaLiga is making advances against the illegal broadcast of its content online. To detect this content there is a focus on finding certain social media accounts and mobile apps and reporting them.
There is also a focus on IPTVs and card sharing piracy, two systems which have proven the most harmful to the owners of audiovisual rights. Over 15,800 IPTV subscriptions have been reported to Google and 67.2% of these have been deindexed, while more than 10,800 profiles that were sharing illegal streams in Facebook groups have been reported with over 91% of them removed. As for card sharing services, 5,772 of the 5,779 complaints filed were accepted and led to elimination.
The value of in-house tools
One of the most important factors behind these results has been LaLiga’s creation of its own tools. Marauder was the first system that LaLiga launched to help with geolocation, producing a map that outlined where to find most of the illegal websites, social media accounts and apps.
Next there was Lumière, a tool that is constantly evolving and that assists with investigations by digitally extracting evidence. This tool was even loaned to Spain’s Ministry of Culture and Sport and Peru’s National Institute for the Defence of Free Competition and the Protection of Intellectual Property.
According to Emilio Fernández del Castillo, the head of LaLiga’s Technological Protection of Content department, there are plenty more solutions to come. “The main success from this year is the Blackhole software, which has helped us to draw up maps of IPTVs at a national and international level and this helps us to define our strategy,” he said. “Soon we’ll have NEKO, a new tool that will allow us to file reports on social media in a quicker and more efficient manner. This will allow the number of complaints made per minute to increase considerably.”
The continued development of such tools is the result of significant and long-standing investment, something that LaLiga recognised as necessary in properly tackling piracy.
“The development of leading technology requires significant investment of human and technical resources, but LaLiga hasn’t held back and we have our own anti-piracy lab that is made up of more than 25 people in addition to those from other departments, like the legal department, who offer their assistance,” said Diego Dabrio, head of the Global Protection of Content department at LaLiga. “We don’t only have the challenge of having to remain up to date and aware of the latest digital trends; we also have to be proactive.”
An international leader
Beyond its own competition, LaLiga has opened its doors to international partners, coalitions and parties who are also hurt by piracy. “Sadly, piracy is a global issue,” explained Dabrio. “There is a section of society, largely made up of the youngest generations, of people who seem to have grown up with a mistaken belief that piracy is a normal thing and that it’s socially acceptable. But it is a crime that negatively impacts the entertainment industry and society as a whole.”
As part of the efforts to stop piracy, LaLiga has organised awareness campaigns to help explain the significant damage caused by illegally watching audiovisual content.
There are a number of countries where LaLiga is working on anti-piracy, including Portugal, Italy, Russia, South Africa, Colombia and Malaysia. Furthermore, the Global Protection of Content department are taking administrative and legal action in countries such as Brazil, Uruguay, the Republic of the Congo, Mexico, Argentina and Ecuador.
“Through LaLiga’s efforts and thanks to collaboration with other members of the industry, blocking orders have been granted in Mexico, Peru, Denmark, Ecuador and Indonesia,” Dabrio continued. “There have also been operations in Senegal, Brazil, the Dominican Republic and Curaçao. We’ve worked out that these measures have affected more than 155 million monthly visits to these illegal platforms.”
Sharing knowledge to turn up the pressure
A significant part of LaLiga’s anti-piracy strategy is the sharing of its knowledge with other institutions. “At LaLiga, we’re open to collaborating with any company that owns audiovisual content, whether it’s football, other sports or general entertainment,” Dabrio stated. “In fact, LaLiga forms part of a number of coalitions that focus on tackling piracy and on protecting content. Not only do we participate a lot in these coalitions, but we have a leading role. It’s vital that the industry works in a united and coordinated manner. Rights holders need to actively collaborate and share experiences and objectives that mark the way forward.”
Having become a leader in terms of the technology it has developed, LaLiga can offer smaller leagues, such as Belgium’s Jupiler Pro League, access to the same tools. “LaLiga has been pioneering in the sense of offering anti-piracy services to other leagues and we’re in conversation with other important rights holders too,” Dabrio said.
There’s a need to work with all kinds of organisations, including those in the judiciary, to bring about change. “Our good relationships with the police and the public prosecutors help to make the fraud detection processes more efficient,” added Dabrio. “We need to have judicial frameworks that promote effective mechanisms that protect audiovisual content in real time and I believe collaboration between the public and private sectors is fundamental for this.”
As part of this, Dabrio pointed to the examples of LaLiga allowing the government to use the tools that it had designed, such as Lumiére.
While there is still work to be done, audiovisual pirates around the world are feeling the impact of LaLiga’s tools and international alliances. “The development of new tools and more innovative software, as well as the increase in the number of those involved, has been key in ensuring that the statistics keep on moving in a positive direction,” explained Fernández del Castillo. With more developments and more partnerships to come, even more illegal activity will be stopped in the future.”