New plans to tackle illegal streaming sites and devices
Blocking illegal streaming services and clamping down on rogue app developers are among the Government's proposals to tackle the problem of intellectual property theft.
In a bid to reduce the millions estimated to be lost by UK creative industries each year, ministers want to give law enforcers powers to suspend streaming sites administratively.
Currently they must seek a High Court injunction for every case.
Legal media streaming devices such as Android TV and Kodi boxes can also be adapted to bypass paywalls with apps or add-ons so users can access content – such as subscription TV, certain sports channels and new films – for free.
The Government wants to raise awareness among consumers that buying a doctored streaming device could land them a heavy fine.
The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) says current laws are effective, highlighting the case of an operator of a pirate service streaming Premier League football who was jailed for five years in Newcastle this summer.
Elsewhere, two suppliers of illicit streaming devices were jailed for four-and-a-half years for selling hundreds of devices letting their customers watch Sky Sports, BT Sport and foreign channels for free.
But the Government wants to see further measures introduced.
Following a call for views on the practice of illicit streaming by the IPO, the Government has announced it will be reviewing how administrative site blocking could protect creative and sporting industries.
It also said it would look at how developers of the apps used to adapt streaming boxes could be disrupted and start research on consumer views towards illegal streaming devices to develop strategies to reduce their use.
The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy added that plans to update the training of Trading Standards officers are also in the pipeline.
Minister for Intellectual Property, Sam Gyimah said: "Illegal streaming damages our creative industries.
"We have always been clear that media streaming devices used to access 'paid for' material for free are illegal. Recent prosecutions have shown that if caught, sellers of boxes adapted in this way face fines and a prison sentence.
"Through our modern Industrial Strategy, we are backing our booming creative industries which is why we are taking further steps to tackle this threat and in our recent creative industries sector deal outlined support to create the right conditions for them to continue to thrive."