tech giants, Foxtel to fight illegal streams

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SOCIAL MEDIA’S piracy police will be out in force on Sunday, patrolling for signs of illegal streams in the much-anticipated bout between Brisbane boxer Jeff Horn and American challenger Terence Crawford.

While offenders risk fines of $60,000 or five years’ prison for streaming the Las Vegas match in Australia, tech giants and pay-per-view provider Foxtel will employ state-of-the-art technology and “world-leading surveillance” to track unsanctioned broadcasts and shut down piracy attempts.

Two Australian men previously apologised for illegally broadcasting the Anthony Mundine vs. Danny Green fight online to avoid prosecution, but it’s understood digital tracking technology has since improved so no unlawful streams last “more than a round,” and copyright holders are willing to prosecute offenders.

The biggest drawcard on the boxing calendar so far this year will begin at 10am on Sunday, and is expected to be broadcast at pubs across Australia, and through Foxtel’s Main Event channel for a $49.95 fee.

But social networks and TV providers are preparing for their own fight against anyone who attempts to illegally broadcast the event, with more sophisticated technology at their disposal.

Foxtel chief executive Patrick Delany urged Australians to consider who would be hurt by piracy before they broke the law.

“Foxtel will have in place world-leading surveillance technology to monitor for illegal streaming and file sharing of its Main Event pay-for-view channel broadcast of the Jeff Horn-Terence Crawford world title fight this Sunday,” Mr Delany said.

“We will act if we discover piracy, but I would urge any people inclined to do this to think hard about who they are really hurting with their actions. It’s not just Foxtel but, more importantly, it’s people like Jeff Horn.”

While a Brisbane man previously attracted an audience of more than 150,000 viewers to his illegal broadcast of the Mundine vs. Green boxing match, a Facebook spokesman said the social network now employed a tool called Rights Manager to shut down unlawful streams.

“We check every Facebook Live video stream against files in the Rights Manager reference library and, if a match surfaces, we’ll interrupt that live video,” he said.

A Twitter spokesman said the company would also quickly remove “content alleged to be infringing” copyright on Sunday, and employed editors to monitor Periscope video streams across its network.

It’s understood no attempts to illegally broadcast the Floyd Mayweather vs. Connor McGregor fight in August last year lasted a single round.

Australian online piracy dropped 25 per cent this year after the Federal Court blocked access to 65 piracy sites and 380 domains last August, according to a report by Incopro, but Creative Content Australia executive director Lori Flekser said the results could be better.

She said prosecuting those who viewed illegally shared content was “always a possibility,” but content creators would prefer to educate viewers “to help them understand why this is a problem”.

“I would hope the greatest disincentive for people would be that they truly understand that the less people pay for this content, the less likely it will be available at the current costs,” she said.

“As in any business, if people eat from your restaurant without paying, you will not be in business for very long.”

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