Joint police and industry action brings down card sharing pirate

21 June 2011

  • Police raid in Cyprus stops largest case of commercial card sharing
  • BFBS and AEPOC members BSkyB, Nova and Irdeto initiated undercover investigation
  • Pirate provider admits charges – nearly 1,400 illegal viewers fear consequences

AEPOC, the European Association for the Protection of Encrypted Works and Services, welcomes the successful police operation against a large scale pay-TV pirate in Cyprus. The investigation was initiated by AEPOC members and its partners – BFBS, BSkyB, Nova and Irdeto supported the undercover action during past months and assisted the police in a raid with a team of specialists: On June 14th a 49-year-old Cypriot man was arrested for illegally providing subscriptions to the pay-TV offerings of BFBS, BSkyB and Nova. The accused has already admitted the charges. The police are still seeking a second suspect. Servers, computers and associated equipment have been seized to undergo a forensic examination.

The pirate is accused of having provided illegal pay-TV subscriptions to nearly 1,400 clients in Cyprus and across Europe – at least within the timeframe October 2010 to May 2011 earning a minimum of some €100,000 according to first findings. For giving illicit access to the pay-TV channels the man and the second suspect established a network of five servers which distributed the required access codes from single, legitimate but abused smart cards to the clients’ equipment. This case represents one of the largest incidents of commercial pay-TV piracy based on “card sharing”, given the harmful potential of five robust servers – and is the biggest case for Cyprus. The man is said to have sold illegal three, six and 12-months subscriptions for €55, €89 and €155, respectively.

The police focus their investigation on the accused in view of commercial piracy but did not rule out that also the individual clients who purchased the illicit subscriptions could have to fear consequences: EU legislation such as the Conditional Access Directive and other protection such as copyright laws forbid the use of pirate equipment to access audiovisual services such as pay-TV. The action was initiated by AEPOC members and their partners towards the end of 2010, followed by a carefully prepared undercover operation during four months. Close collaboration of the industry to support the Cypriot enforcement authorities proved very successful to bring down this pirate activity in a record time.

Michael Barley, AEPOC’s Vice President, said: “Every pirate activity leaves a trace, be it IP-addresses, websites to sell illegal offerings or even payment receipts issued to clients of an illicit card sharing network as in the Cypriot case. AEPOC and its members are committed to follow each incident and bring down pirates. Trustful collaboration with the police helps to achieve anti-piracy results in an increasingly short timeframe. Nevertheless, the EU legislative framework needs to evolve further to build an even bigger deterrent to prevent audiovisual piracy in the first place.”

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