English Premier League clamps down on illegal web broadcasts of matches

A website that illegally streams live television to personal computers and shows English football games each week could be closed down by the Premier League. MyP2P.eu, which is registered in the Netherlands, also showed the England cricket team’s one-day international matches with Australia last week, along with hundreds of other sporting events, including American football games, rugby and Formula One.

The Premier League has a policy of not showing any live matches at 3pm on a Saturday, but that rule does not apply to foreign broadcasters. This creates an opportunity for pirates, who act to meet a demand from British audiences for games that cannot otherwise be seen.

Simon Denyer, chief executive of Perform, which works with rights owners to create highlights packages that are shown on dozens of legal websites, including those run by major newspaper groups, said piracy is a growing problem. “If you don’t allow someone to watch [games] from an official source, then the pirates do it for you. The biggest problem is the 3pm Premier League kick-offs,” he said. Mr Denyer added that the vast majority of illegally available games were “very low quality, with strange commentary and graphics”.

The Premier League said 1,800 cases of illegal streaming were dealt with last season, more than 90% of them successfully. It employs a company called NetResult to protect its intellectual property and either remove web content or shut down websites that are illegally streaming games.

The league is also embroiled, along with several other companies in the music and film industries, in a long-running legal battle with YouTube, which it accuses of illegally showing Premier League games. It is suing the video-sharing site, which is owned by Internet giant Google, in a New York court.