French court fines sports pirates €7 million

A Rennes court in France has fined a group of pirates operating some 20 illicit streaming sites €7 million in damages and interests following complaints lodged by pay TV channel providers Canal+, beIN Sports and RMC Sport.

The trio of operators teamed up with the Association de Lutte contre la Piraterie Audiovisuelle (ALPA) to pursue the case, which involved the operation of pirate sites between 2014-17.

Canal+ praised the heavy fine, which it said sent a strong signal about the risks and the gravity of illicit distribution of sports content.

The group said that by pursuing the case it had initiated a major advance in the protection of intellectual property rights of sports rightsholders and distributors in France.

“Content piracy is a growing problem with multiple repercussions for the totality of sports ecosystem, the media industry and pay TV. To pirate audioivisual content is not, and cannot be an innocuous act. This ruling illustrates that. The decision of the court is a real victory: it constitutes a successful conclusion of our efforts to protect sprots rightsholders and aids the Canal+_ Group in its struggle against audiovisual piracy,” said Céline Boyer, director of content protection for Canal+ Group.

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