NEWS

UK Piracy Injunction Forces Premiership Fans to Use VPNs

It’s that time of year again. All over the world, people are desperate to watch the UK’s Premier League. The Premiership is the biggest, richest, most famous soccer league on Earth. Showing in 212 territories to 643 million homes, it is also the most watched sports league on the planet. The international television rights for the league create a whopping $2.6 billion (and climbing) in revenue every year.

Despite those stratospheric statistics, the UK’s Premier League has been locked in a court battle to get an injunction that would allow it to fight harder against illegal streams of Premiership football matches. Now, the Premier League has gained a high court injunction allowing it to force UK Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to clamp down on internet servers streaming Premier League matches.

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Real-time Blocks

Under the newly granted injunction, Premiership staff will be able to flag up offending websites and have ISPs block them immediately. The hope is that this will curb the growing amount of piracy it believes has been occurring in recent years.

The new injunction is an addendum to one that was granted previously. That earlier court order allowed the Premiership to make ISPs block well-known streaming and torrenting sites, such as the Pirate Bay. However, Premiership officials argued that this wasn’t enough and persisted with getting this new court order – which allows them to force ISPs to block sites in real-time during the forthcoming season.

According to Premiership officials, the previous injunction allowed them to block access to around 5,000 illegal streams of soccer matches. That success appears to have spurred the UK’s premiership on to seek this extra injunction. Kevin Plumb, the Director of Legal Services for the English Premier League (EPL), has released a statement on the EPL website:

“This blocking order is a game-changer in our efforts to tackle the supply and use of illicit streams of our content.

“It will allow us to quickly and effectively block and disrupt the illegal broadcast of Premier League football via any means, including so called ‘pre-loaded Kodi boxes’.”

UK Residents Affected

Exact details about the new court order have yet to be published. However, it would appear from the EPL statement that it will mainly serve to block foreign servers showing EPL matches in the UK.

According to that statement, the EPL will be able to serve UK ISPs (such as BT, Virgin Media, Sky, PlusNet, TalkTalk, and EE) with a list of offending sites. The injunction specifies that those ISPs will then need to comply by quickly blocking the illegal streams in real-time.

As such, streams with unique addresses and mirrors are likely to be closed down during the course of live games. The EPL website states,

“The protection of our copyright, and the investment made by our broadcast partners is hugely important to the Premier League and the future health of English football.”   

Watch Pirated Football Outside the UK

The court order will not stop people outside the UK from watching pirated streams of matches. In addition, it seems likely that UK residents will still be able to continue watching those illegal streams by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to pretend to be in a different country. Using a Premiership VPN will allow UK citizens to conceal their online activities with encryption and bypass the ISP blockade to continue watching free Premiership matches.

There is, of course, the possibility that VPN IP addresses could be flagged up as providing access to pirated streams of football matches. However, because premium VPNs have thousands of servers located all over the world (and because just about any of them will allow UK residents to continue accessing illegal streams), it seems impossible that the EPL will be able to stop VPN users from watching pirated streams.

Privacy Concerns

Usually, ISPs aren’t keen on towing the entertainment industry’s line by blocking access to websites. Blocking websites is generally bad for business. It annoys customers and costs the ISP time and money to enforce.

However, most UK ISPs have a vested interest in helping the EPL to stop piracy. Why? Because most of them (EE, BT, Sky and Virgin Media) provide pay-per-view access to Premiership matches.

As such, it would appear that ISPs have been working hand in hand with the EPL, reportedly even providing the EPL with “a certain level of customer traffic.” If that is true, UK ISPs have been actively colluding with the EPL by backstabbing their own customers: bad practice at best and a complete invasion of privacy at worst.

That, combined with the UK’s Snoopers Charter (which forces ISPs to retain web browsing histories for a year), ought to be a wake-up call for UK residents. ISPs only care about money. They are not to be trusted, and the power they have over citizens’ data is outright terrifying.

Get a VPN Now!

For that reason, UK residents should seriously consider getting a VPN. Not only because it will allow them to continue watching pirated streams of Premiership matches, but because the encryption that a VPN provides will stop ISPs from being able to snoop on their web browsing history. The result? ISPs have no data to give the government, and no knowledge of the IP addresses they have visited to share with the EPL.

Finally, please be reassured that reports in some British tabloids that UK residents could have their internet connections cut off for watching pirated streams of Premiership matches are false. It is the websites themselves that are going to be blocked by UK ISPs, not people’s internet connections.

Opinions are the writer’s own.

Title image credit: charnsitr/Shutterstock.com

Image credit: charnsitr/Shutterstock.com, Rob Wilson/Shutterstock.com, garagestock/Shutterstock.com


Ray Walsh I am a freelance journalist and blogger from England. I am highly interested in politics and in particular the subject of IR. I am an advocate for freedom of speech, equality, and personal privacy. On a more personal level I like to stay active, love snowboarding, swimming and cycling, enjoy seafood, and love to listen to trap music.

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