Operation Casper Shuts Down Massive Premier League Piracy Ring

The Spanish National Police and Europol have raided one of the largest European illegal IPTV streaming businesses, with a focus on hijacked Premier league feeds.

In a collaborative operation with Europol, Eurojust, Spanish specialized computer crimes prosecutors, the English Premier League and content security specialist Irdeto, 12 locations were raided in Spain and Bulgaria over the course of the effort. Dubbed Operation Casper, eight individuals were arrested for the illegal distribution of 1,000 pay TV channels across two ISPs, through the use of IPTV technology.

The servers used to provide illegal access to the channels were shut down and numerous documents incriminating the individuals under investigation were also confiscated, law enforcement said.

“These actions are just one part of the largest anti-piracy campaign the Premier League has conducted to protect its copyright,” said Kevin Plumb, director of legal services, Premier League. “The raids in Spain and Bulgaria by the Spanish police and law enforcement agencies are a clear indication that IPTV piracy will not be tolerated. Our model, like other sports and creative industries, is predicated on the ability to market and sell rights and protect our intellectual property. It is because of this that clubs can invest in and develop talented players, build world class stadiums, and support young people in schools and communities across the country."

After the Premier League initiated the effort to combat illegal online redistribution of its live broadcasts, Irdeto then identified a Danish citizen residing in Spain who owned an ISP in Málaga, as reported in February. Since then, the firm discovered that the ISP was being used to illegally broadcast encrypted TV signals to thousands of consumers and businesses across Europe. That individual was unmasked as the leader of a criminal organization that was able to provide a high-quality pirate service rivaling offerings from legal operators.

From there, Operation Casper also uncovered another illegal organization located in Silistra, Bulgaria, which was operated by the same criminal network who had another internet provider in that location covering different European countries. Both of the ISPs identified were legally established, performing legal activities while also exploiting their capacities to provide illegal services.

“The efforts of the Spanish Police and law enforcement to dismantle pirate organizations like this is critical in the fight against IPTV piracy,” said Mark Mulready, senior director, Cyber Services & Investigations at Irdeto. “We continue to support our customers, partners and law enforcement agencies to identify large-scale cross-border pirate networks and help combat piracy. By detecting, analyzing, investigating and countering piracy, our collaborative efforts send a message to the pirate community that they will be found and brought to justice.”

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