EU turns the screw on free Netflix, Sky TV and Prime Video streams with new crackdown

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EU piracy clampdown free Netflix Sky TV Prime

EU launches new piracy clampdown measures for free Netflix Sky TV Amazon Prime Video streams (Image: GETTY)

Lawmakers in Brussels this week have turned the screw on internet pirates, putting increasing pressure on those that use free and illegal Netflix, Sky TV and Prime Video streams. It was just a few days ago that Express.co.uk reported that the EU is looking at ways to ban people from looking at websites which promote online piracy at the very first point of access. And now, hot on the heels of that news, it’s been revealed the European Parliament (EP) has taken a vote that will severely dent internet pirates operations.

This week MEPs voted through to approve the Digital Services Act (DSA), which includes various measures to help combat online piracy and bring EU legislation in keeping with the current, modern digital age, TorrentFreak reported.

The DSA includes measures on how takedown notices are dealt with by online services, along with upload filters – which would automatically ban content users try to upload which is deemed illegal.

There was pushback from both sides when the DSA first draft was revealed, with those in favour of more stringent copyright measures feeling it did not go far enough, and others feeling it was too drastic.

Squid Game: Jung-jae Lee stars in trailer for Netflix series

When the vote came to approve the DSA an amendment was tabled which would have effectively banned the use of these controversial upload filters.

However, despite the late bid to stop these measures MEPs voted against banning upload filters – with 434 against and 242 in favour.

The news came as a disappointment to Pirate Party MEP Patrick Breyer, who is on the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties.

Breyer tweeted: “Internet corporations use unreliable upload filters against supposedly illegal content – with much collateral damage. The majority won‘t even limit automated censorship to content that is manifestly illegal irrespective of its context.”

IS IT ILLEGAL TO STREAM MOVIES, TV SHOWS OR SPORTS FOR FREE?

Streaming movies, TV shows or sports that you should be paying for to watch is illegal.

It violates the copyright holders rights and can end up costing you far more in the long-run – with cases of rights holders in the past getting in touch with people that illegally streamed their content and demanding hefty damages.

Besides the legal dangers, watching illegal free streams online poses other risks. Free movie and TV show sites can be filled with dangerous malware that you may download onto your device without even realising it.

Malware can lead to the performance of your device being seriously slowed down, while malicious software can also lead to your sensitive personal or financial data being stolen.

Besides illegal streaming websites, IPTV devices are another popular piracy tool. IPTV stands for internet protocol television, and as the name suggests this is a TV service delivered over the internet.

There are legal IPTV services out there (such as Sky’s contract-free NOW service) but there are also plenty of illicit IPTV offerings.

And the latter illegal services pose some surprise dangers, such as graphic content like violent horror movies or pornography being displayed alongside movies or TV shows that children would want to watch.

So if you have youngsters in your house using an illegal IPTV service can open kids up to content you wouldn’t want them viewing.

European Parliament

The European Parliament voted on the latest anti-piracy measures (Image: GETTY)

Squid Game

If everyone watched content illegally, shows such as smash hit Squid Game wouldn’t be possible (Image: NETFLIX)

In recent years copyright holders have been ramping up anti-piracy efforts, with major Hollywood studios such as Netflix and Disney teaming up to form the Motion Picture Association (MPA), who – along with its anti-piracy partner the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) – have led the charge to block hundreds of piracy websites used by millions of people.

While you may be tempted by websites that offer free streams of paid-for content, watching any such streams, or downloading pirated torrents, is illegal and no different to stealing a Blu-Ray from your local high street entertainment store.

Besides being against the law, not paying for content legitimately means money doesn’t end up going to the content creators themselves and doesn’t help fund their work. Without this, you wouldn’t have shows such as last year’s smash hit Squid Game being possible.

News of the recent vote on piracy measures comes days after it was revealed the EU was working on a new programme that would ban internet users from visiting websites that promote piracy at the very first point of access.

The way this works revolves around the Domain Name System (DNS), which is an essential part of the way the internet operates – and has been for decades.

A crucial component of this are DNS resolvers, which let people easily access and locate any website on the net. This system used to be dubbed the internet’s phone book. These days the DNS resolver market is largely dominated by US firms such as Google, Cloudflare and Norton.

But to combat this the EU has been looking at launching its own DNS resolver under the DNS4EU project. The EU-operated DNS resolvers are meant to protect users privacy, keep them secure from malware and phishing attempts, as well as comply with privacy regulations such as GDPR and stop user data from being monetised.

But the European Commission (EC) – who are the EU’s legislative branch – could also make sure the EU’s DNS resolvers automatically block users from accessing any websites deemed “illegal” – which could encompass sites that facilitate piracy.

So that would mean websites that offer free Netflix, Prime Video, Sky TV streams and more, plus torrent download portals.

Online piracy

There are no two ways about it, online piracy is illegal (Image: GETTY)

Speaking about URL filters, the documentation for the DNS4EU project says: “Filtering of URLs leading to illegal content based on legal requirements applicable in the EU or in national jurisdictions (e.g. based on court orders), in full compliance with EU rules.”

Responding to the news, Breyer said infringing content should be removed instead of blocked due to the risk of overblocking.

Breyer said: “Illegal content should be removed where it is hosted.”

The MEP also added: “A government-run DSA scheme comes with the risk of online censorship.

“Access blocking leaves content online and therefore can easily be circumvented and often results in overblocking and collateral suppression of legal speech hosted on the same website, by the same provider or via the same network.”



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