New hacking lawsuit clears way for FIFA World Cup site ban

In November, billions of people around the world will tune in to watch the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Most viewers do this through licensed services, but such events also attract huge audiences of pirates. In anticipation, several Canadian media companies are trying to take legal action.

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Banning the World Cup Football Pirates

A few days ago, media giant Bell Media sought an injunction against two “John Doe” sports broadcasting operators who were to broadcast the soccer World Cup. The operators are identified only by the IP addresses through which they publish these feeds.

Bell’s TSN4 network holds the rights to broadcast FIFA, and with this lawsuit, the company wants to take precautionary measures.

Defendants John Doe services previously broadcast Major League Soccer matches without permission. And since they rebroadcast spectator stations, it is likely that they are also broadcasting the World Cup to their visitors.

“The defendants are unauthorized server operators providing unauthorized services in Canada to the stations of the suspects who will be broadcasting the FIFA World Cup matches live for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” the suspects wrote.

Two sports broadcast operators

First Defender made pirated content available through servers located in the British Virgin Islands, Russia, and the United Kingdom. It is hosted by service providers listed in the British Virgin Islands and Ukraine.

Pirated streams have appeared on several public sports hacking sites, including bingsport.xyz and papahd.club, and via link aggregators such as soccerstreamlinks.com, redditsoccerstream.org and soccerstream.net.

bingsport

Defendant No. 2 has servers physically located in Belize and hosted by a company from the same country. These streams are available through sportsway.me and various link aggregators including redditsoccerstreams.org and reddit1.soccerstreams.net.

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command sought

In addition to Bell Media, the list of interviewees includes The Sports Network, CTV Specialty Television, and Sports Network. The media companies are jointly seeking a federal court in Montreal for damages and an injunction to stop the illegal activity.

Specifically, they want operators to stop “providing unauthorized access to a live streaming server or allowing access to live broadcasts of live football World Cup matches in Canada”.

There is debate as to whether this order, if granted, would be enough to deter pirates. Then again, if John Does doesn’t respond in court, it’s very likely that a new site ban request is being set up by the rights holders.

Previous blocking orders have also been issued in Canada in lawsuits against operators, which is similar to the setup found here.

Banning World Cup Pirate Site?

Canada’s federal court has approved the country’s first anti-piracy order in four years. Most ISPs did not object to the blocking request, but TekSavvy fought it tooth and nail, arguing that it threatened the open internet.

TekSavvy’s appeals earlier this year failed after the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. It was a major setback according to Vice President for Regulatory Affairs Andy Kaplan-Mert, who prophetically said it would lead to more withholding of applications from major media companies.

Now armed with GoldTV style commands, […] What is stopping the Canadian media giants from having courts that force more ISPs to block more copyrighted content? nothing ; Expect that to happen, Kaplan-Mirth said at the time.

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Indeed, the first new restraining order was issued shortly thereafter. Following a complaint from several rights holders, the Canadian Federal Court issued a “dynamic” freezing order in June. This injunction is intended to prevent live NHL games from being shown via pirated IPTV services.

With this latest push to deter FIFA World Cup piracy, another site-blocking order is in the works.

A copy of the statement provided by Bell, The Sports Network, CTV Specialty Television and Sports Network, available here (pdf)

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