Bundesliga International chief executive Robert Klein has called for better legislation, more effective technology and more widespread government commitment in the battle against media rights piracy which, he says, has developed into a ‘highly sophisticated illegal industry.’
Klein, who singles out Saudi pirate operation beoutQ as ‘the most flagrant offender’, says that while some countries are supportive of anti-piracy issues, others could do more to battle pirates who are becoming ever-more sophisticated.
“beoutQ are undertaking one of the world’s most cynical and widespread piracies to date. Every day that goes by is damaging the rights holders whose content they steal and an affront to our partner (the Qatari rights-holder) beIN,” he said.
“As guardians of the game we must do all that we can to protect investment in its future which is being damaged by criminals like beoutQ.
“What used to be an underground, opportunistic activity undertaken by individuals has developed. Criminals are now profiting from professional-looking products, partially via advertising-financed streaming portals, through subscription services like IPTV and KODI, over sharing platforms including peer-to-peer networks, illegal web-TV offerings and via social media.
“As technology continues to advance, the opportunities for more platforms to emerge increases,” he said.
Bundesliga International is a member of SROC, the Sports Rights Owners Coalition and other groups set up to combat the pirates and, says Klein, works closely with other football leagues and bodies, including the English Premier League, Uefa and Fifa.
“We are working day-in-day-out to significantly increase legal, technical, political and economic measures to close the net on criminals like beoutQ and have developed a network of trusted partners and service providers to help us to do that,” he said.
He believes technology companies have a clear responsibility to play their role in protecting rights.
“Networks have both a legal and social responsibility and the likes of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram are actively tackling this through technology and education. Of course, more could be done but it’s important to work together to improve their success in this area,” he said.
While acknowledging it is always going to be an uphill battle to block pirate activity, Klein said the league is determined to succeed.
“There’s no easy solution due to the constant innovations in technology and the accessibility of the internet. We have fought piracy from day one and will not stop until the threat of criminal organisations like beoutQ have been eliminated,” he said.