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AEPOC: Attentive law enforcement and tighter legal environment to effectively narrow down living space for pirates

European Anti-Piracy Association expects increased anti-piracy activities in 2008

(PresseBox) (Brussels, ) .
- AEPOC reports increased anti-piracy raites by European and international law enforcement bodies
- ‘Card Sharing’: successes in Portugal – groundbreaking judgement in Australia
- Mission Olivennes: France to take strong steps against ‘casual piracy’ – indicating increased attention of regulators to protect the industry’s property

AEPOC, the European Association for the Protection of Encrypted Works and Services, looks back on a successful year 2007 with many anti-piracy measures effectively accomplished – and expects national law enforcement bodies as well as EU regulators to continue to narrow down the living space for pirates during 2008.

In the year 2007 ending session in December of AEPOC’s Board of Directors and Ordinary General Assembly meetings held in Brussels, Members reported several anti-piracy cases that effectively prove the increased attention and activity of law enforcement entities to combat audio-visual piracy: One strong case was presented by AEPOC Member TV Cabo Portugal: The country’s ever-first judgement by a Portuguese court foresees imprisonment of 80 days against two Pay-TV pirates having dealt with piracy equipment, being about to enter into force.

Moreover the Portuguese Judiciary Police conducted a big operation against Pay-TV piracy associated to ‘card-sharing’: The police action has dismantled several servers, that illegally gave access to Pay-TV channels – and additionally seized more than 1,000 smart cards as well as miscellaneous equipment such as routers, card-writers and “Dreamboxes” in a total of eleven searches. Accordingly, the Portuguese Judiciary Police gave another clear signal in successfully combating this type of organized crime.

In regards to card sharing another case from Australia has brought up a ground-breaking judgement – providing important judicial guidance to Australian courts – potentially also serving as a precedent on an international basis: The world’s first judgement in any jurisdiction dealing with card sharing has found that a company called “The Mod Shop” had implemented a strategy, which involved providing purchasers of satellite TV equipment with the mean to access Australian Pay-TV without authorisation. The judge specifically ruled that programmed smart cards but also card-sharing hardware and software were illegal “broadcast decoding devices” – making this world’s first sentence against card-sharing piracy possible, resulting in fines of more than one million AUS$ or approximately Euro 600,000.

Just recently in early January 2008, AEPOC Member AMC (Arab Media Corporation and shareholder of ART and ADD Europe) reported a judgement in a court in Amman, Jordan, of a pirate dealer sentenced to one year in prison, besides a US$ 8,500 fine and seizure of all equipment. The pirate was found guilty of IP infringement for the sale of two ”Dreamboxes“ which enabled the end user to watch Pay-TV without a subscription. This is a landmark case in satellite piracy in Jordan, designed to send a strong message to the pirate community that the country says NO to piracy. Also Canada has seen its forth sentence with a Pay-TV pirate being sent to jail – as a result of a case brought to court by Nagrastar, an affiliated company of AEPOC Member Nagravision, in association with EchoStar and Bell ExpressVu. This December 2007 judgement of four months in prison concerns an individual having operated several web sites that were considered major satellite piracy forums, providing information and distribution of piracy devices and software used to illegally access North American Pay-TV content.

AEPOC President Jean Grenier commented: “We do welcome the overall increased attention and success rate of European and international law enforcement. Still, AEPOC suggests in general to European regulators to develop a more sufficiently dissuasive legal framework that makes more extreme rulings such as imprisonment only necessary in the most severe cases. Nevertheless, jail seems applicable in cases, that more than blatantly ignore the law”.

Mission Olivennes: France to take strong steps against ‘casual piracy’

In view of the development of the European legal landscape, AEPOC mainly supports the French initiative “Mission Olivennes”, and the according agreement from November 2007: Named after FNAC’s President Denis Olivennes, the cooperation of mostly Internet and content providing companies is aimed at combating illegal Internet downloads – so to speak ‘casual piracy’, committed by individuals using e.g. peer-to-peer networks. The initiative, backed by President Nicolas Sarkozy, shall result in an effective IT-system to determine pirates – and eventually cut-off Internet access. Davide Rossi, AEPOC Secretary General said: “AEPOC is highly interested to see this move become a practical reality and effective tool to bring down such forms of piracy. Yet we do think that France is taking a step in the right direction – actively dealing with the issue of audio-visual piracy, including radical steps to isolate consumers from Internet access, if required.” The 40 signatories of the agreement include among others AEPOC Member Canal+ as well as France Telecom, Telecom Italia and TF1.

The next AEPOC meeting is scheduled to take place in March 2008 in conjunction with the 2008 edition of Satellite and Media Trade Show and Congress SatExpo in Rome.