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Unauthorised livestreams: Access blocking harms fans and users

Europaparlament European Parliament Freedom, democracy and transparency Freiheit, Demokratie und Transparenz Press releases

Today, the European Commission recommended measures to fight “livestream piracy”. The text also advocates “blocking injunctions” targeted at Internet Service Providers (ISPs), including “dynamic” blocking injunctions that would allow industry to add new blocking targets without judicial review. The recommendation follows up on the European Parliaments draft resolution in 2021, which called for stricter measures against unauthorised livestreams of sports events. However, such radical measures would result in over-blocking and fails to address the real cause of using unauthorised live streams, argues MEP Patrick Breyer, who was a shadow rapporteur for the 2021 JURI report and voted against the text.

Patrick Breyer, Member of the European Parliament for the German Pirate Party, comments:

“The commercialised sports lobby’s influence on this topic is omnipresent and results in the Commission recommending radical measures that would not only be ineffective, but also harmful to fans and users in general. Requiring ISPs to block access is too easy to circumvent for users by simply changing DNS servers. Blocking access to an entire IP address however results in massive collateral damage to freedom of information by overblocking also access to countless legal content. All in all, the profit-driven quest for ever more draconian measures ignores the obvious: the best way of reducing illegal streaming is to ensure that there is universal and affordable legal access to sport event broadcasts, both subscription-based and pay-per-view.”

Marcel Kolaja, Quaestor and Member of the European Parliament for the Czech Pirate Party:

“Livestreams of sport events are still often impacted by geo-blocking. That means that even some of those sport fans who would like to watch the event legally can’t do so because of their location. Therefore, I believe that when trying to fight illegal streaming, it’s first important to make sure there’s sufficient legal offer. We also have to make sure there is not a set general monitoring principal which could impact legal content as well.”