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The Football Premier League has announced that it had to put an end to thousands of illegal web streams of its matches last season.  With the new season starting in just a few days they are more determined than ever to ensure that this season sees less illegal streaming.

The league recently signed a deal worth £760 million a year with Sky and another with BT for the 2013-2014 season, arguably a discerning factors in the reasoning behind the effort to stop the streaming of matches illegally.

According to the BBC, it had to shutdown 30,000 streams of football last season, which equated to about 75 streams per actual match played.

The Premier League used NetResult to monitor for activity and remove streams as they appeared, the aim was to remove 80% of all streams while a match was being played.

Speaking about the reasons behind shuttering the streams, a spokesperson for Premier League said: “If you want top quality football, it costs money. It’s not just about star performers getting paid well, it’s about investment in facilities and youth development.”

However, this view is not shared by everyone, Pirate Party believe fairness is the key and that the Premier League should arrange a pay-per-view system for fans as opposed to the current scenario of pushing them to signing up with the likes of Sky. “If the premier league stubbornly refuses to sell the fans what they want, then of course fans will find a way to watch the teams they love,” said Andrew Robinson, UK spokesperson for the Pirate Party. “The Premier League has recently lost a court case over allowing European fans access to TV coverage that British fans are denied. I hope this ruling will encourage them to stop fighting the public and start giving British fans the same chance to watch 3pm Premiership matches that fans in other countries already have.”

Although Sky is yet to reveal whether it will be offering sport thorough its Now TV PAYG service, it is something the company is looking into, which may well deter fans from getting the football match fix illegally.

Neil Parkes, partner at media law firm Wiggin LLP, who explained that the Premier League had every right to protect its content, although given that many of the sites are based outside the UK, policing is an issue.”Illegal streams of live sporting events is a growing problem across the globe. With faster broadband speeds illegal streams are becoming more reliable and of higher quality,” said Parkes.

Most of the streaming sites are based outside the UK in jurisdictions where it is almost impossible to take effective action. Websites collating links to multiple live sports streaming sites is becoming an increasing problem, they often have a mistaken belief that what they are doing is no more than providing a search engine service.  Following recent decisions in the UK courts which have established that the provision of such linking services is infringing and can constitute serious criminal offences streamers need to be mindful of the law.

Parkes noted that these sites are making money off the back of the streams, despite having not rights to the footage. “The operators of streaming and linking websites know full well that they do not have the right to stream the matches but do so nonetheless and many make substantial sums of money from subscriptions to their illegal sites or from advertising revenue. The Premier League exploits the commercial rights of the clubs in the league by licencing the rights to broadcast live matches and it has an obligation to the clubs and to the broadcasters it licences to protect its content.”

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