Operation: Pirate. InterCyberPol in action

Operation: Pirate. InterCyberPol in action

Every year content thieves become less localized — criminals are adapting and implementing complex schemes that make them inaccessible to the rights holders and police of the country to which they broadcast content. This is due to the jurisdiction of another country. Such a “scheme” requires international cooperation and teamwork to be overcome. The experience of key players in the fight against piracy confirms this.

“We are successfully fighting illegal websites hosted in Ukraine,” says Kateryna Fedorova, head of Clear Sky Initiative, “But if a website that steals our members’ content is hosted in another country, we have to ask for international support. Sometimes it works successfully, and sometimes there are bureaucratic obstacles.”

Everyone understands the need for international cooperation in this fight

The Netherlands BREIN Foundation is called one of the most aggressive and successful anti-piracy initiatives in the world. Founded in 1998, BREIN has made historic changes in the area of content anti-theft, including closing the eDonkey file sharing system, ShareConnector network, Oink’s Pink Palance bittorrent and the Moonwalk player (CDN) recently.

The Moonwalk BREIN operation was performed with two other players: ACE — The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (International Initiative) and MPA — The Association of Motion Picture Companies (USA). The elimination of the pirated content distribution network Moonwalk wiped out 80% of Russian-language pirated video content. Among others there were popular in Ukraine websites such as KinoGo, HDrezka, BasKino and GidOnline. As it turned out, Moonwalk was hosted by 5 different Dutch hosts. Thus, the consequences of the operation in Europe have had a positive impact on the situation in Ukraine.

BREIN Chief Tim Kuik says they are cooperating with other anti-piracy agencies: “We work with MPA on this case. We also take contact with other national groups on a case by case basis.”

“As films and television piracy moves increasingly online and becomes less localized, the MPA must work both at global and national level to effectively address online piracy,” agrees Sarah Van Reempts, Senior Legal Counsel for the MPA EMEA European Office representing the interests of the US film and television industry in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

“The MPA’s efforts also occur in nearly every country around the world, where we work with local content protection organizations and partners. Furthermore, the MPA works closely with governments and law enforcement agencies to disrupt the criminal operations behind large-scale piracy websites, and we partner in voluntary initiatives with responsible parties across the internet ecosystem, from domain registrars to payment processors and advertisers.”

MPA is currently a member of many international anti-piracy working groups, including ACE, IPTV Taskforce, MENA Anti-Piracy Coalition.

The ACE Creativity and Entertainment Alliance is the soul of international collaboration on anti-piracy. It is a global coalition of the most powerful creative companies as Amazon, HBO, BBC, Netflix and others including MPA. All of these copyright holders teamed up in 2017 to work together to counter online piracy and protect their content globally.

But there are some difficulties

There are often barriers to cooperation. For example, bureaucratic complications due to the different specifics of law enforcement agencies in different countries. Therefore, some anti-piracy initiatives rely solely on their own strength. So does the UK’s leading intellectual property protection organisation FACT.

Since 1983, this initiative has successfully protected the intellectual property rights in the field of cinematography and television, investigates cybercrime and provides a wide range of crime prevention and business support services. The FACT spokesman notes that in most cases they work independently, but when necessary use local contacts or pass on information to their clients about offenders abroad.

In the summer of 2019, FACT, in conjunction with the Premier League and UK law enforcement, conducted a special operation to track down illegal ISDs that provided access to unlicensed Premier League content. FACT is also partnering with Visa and Mastercard payment systems, providing them with lists of offender sites to stop cash flow to them.

Ukraine on the way to international cooperation

Intellectual exchange is an important aspect of collaboration, it is about ideas, new practices and unique knowledge.

“We exchange general information on international conferences and meetings by MPA and IFPI in which other national groups participate,” emphasizes BREIN Chief Tim Kuik. The experience of colleagues and access to valuable information help the anti-piracy community work more effectively, and organizations create the conditions needed for dissemination of knowledge.

In 2019, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) launched the international project “Building Respect for Intellectual Property” (BRIP). BRIP is a database for the quick exchange of information about pirated resources. The project works as an online platform where you can download a list of claimed websites. This gives the opportunity to alert organizations, public authorities or representatives of the advertising sector of different countries about possible infringements of intellectual property rights.

Another event uniting the international anti-piracy community is the 2018 Warsaw International Summit, at which 34 organizations involved in creating professional content signed a declaration to mobilize the efforts of international organizations to fight online piracy. The signing of the Warsaw Declaration provided a unique opportunity to combine experience and find the most effective mechanisms of control.

The Ukrainian Clear Sky Initiative is among the signatories of the Warsaw Declaration.

“In practice, the cooperation is as follows: we constantly exchange information, experience, resolve debatable issues, hold meetings,” says Kateryna Fedorova. — “I can ask how projects are implemented, for example, blocking access to websites in different countries. What happened to the CDN provider Moonwalk is a good example of what can be done when several organizations join their forces against a single enemy and overcome it. This might work with other violators as well”

There are no competitors in the problem of content theft, there are only partners, whatever the country is. Everyone can be the bearer of important information, take new, more effective approaches instead of standard actions, and share it with others to block access to illegal content. Thanks to international cooperation, it is now much easier to identify criminal resources hosted in different countries that were previously unreachable. If we all come together, this driving force can win!