Stealing from the Premier League

Human nature is contrarian at heart. Everyone is born with an innate sense of rebellion, an instinct that makes every child want to say “No.” Parents are very familiar with this instinct–“Jimmy, please finish your vegetables.” “Yes, it would be my sincerest pleasure mother dearest.” Not quite.The answer is short and curt “No.” By the time mom and dad can reprimand Jimmy, he’s also out the door. Or, take Disneyland as an example. Replete with “Please do not stand on the grass” and “Please do not touch” signs, Disneyland is full of rebellious children–and adults, to be honest–who stand on and touch everything. The sign doesn’t accomplish much other than to encourage disobedience. Of course, grown ups are much better behaved than children and do all that they’re told. So, for example, if a Premier League court injunction order prohibits pirated match live streaming, all live streaming operators gladly submit to such a command. Or perhaps not.

The Premier League High Court’s Ruling

In an effort to crackdown on illegal live streaming, the Premier League court injunction was issued to prevent the practice from happening. The order, which was granted in July, took effect at the beginning of the 2017/2018 season. The results were instant. According to reports, the order “stopped a significant number of UK users accessing illegal streams across the web and via pirate Kodi addons.” This injunction follows on the heels of another one that took effect at the end of the 2016/2017 season. The earlier order also proved to be quite successful, as about 5,000 server IP addresses were blocked. The order served to “effectively block and disrupt the illegal broadcast of Premier League football via any means, including so called ‘pre-loaded’ Kodi boxes.” In a similar way, the current order mandates that “ISPs such as Sky, BT, and Virgin to block ‘pirate’ football streams in real-time.” It is postulated that UK users were affected the most, as many who were live streaming games were met with black screens just a few minutes after the opening whistle.

Don’t Stand on the Grass

Though many were met with defeat as they tried to watch the kickoff of Europe’s most competitive league (the last time an English team secured back to back titles was Manchester United from 2006/7 through 2008/2009, technically a three-peat; compare that with the other top flight leagues) some found a way to outsmart the Premier League court injunction. More sophisticated live stream operators utilized virtual private networks, or VPNs, to trick the ISPs. The VPNs are able to deceive websites and add-ons by acting as if the streaming is happening somewhere else, like another country. The result is that the streaming service stays active and undetected, allowing viewers to watch their favorite teams begin their title push. There is a downside to using VPNs, however. Most secure VPNs require a subscription fee, which, though much lower than premiums paid to the big name providers, is still more expensive than streaming matches for free. Perhaps that is the price to pay for standing on the grass.

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