The Premier League has won a major battle against piracy by gaining a court order forcing UK ISPs to block access to a popular sports streaming site.
The High Court has granted a ban on Swedish site FirstRow1.eu and now service providers like Sky and BT must comply with the order ahead of the new football season, which starts next month.
The FirstRow1.eu site offers easy, yet illegal, access to Premier League football streams for those without the Sky Sports and BT Sport subscriptions necessary to watch the content on TV or online.
The court order marks the first time a sports streaming site has been banned in the UK, although access torrent sites like The Pirate Bay has been restricted by similar mandates.
Giving nothing back
The Premier League, which earlier this year signed global rights deals worth £5.5 billion welcomed the verdict, claiming the site was raking in up to £10m a year by showing games online.
A spokesperson said: "It is absolutely imperative that content industries are afforded protection under the law if they are to continue investing in the sort of quality talent and facilities that have made them successful and of interest in the first place," a spokesman for the Premier League said.
"The judgement recognises the parasitic nature of the enterprise; this was an out and out commercial operation with estimated revenues of up to £10m a year, whilst giving nothing back to the sport."
In a statement to the BBC, FirstRow's proprietors vowed to keep the streams online (new URLs and hosting servers are likely to replace the banned addresses) in the name of those who have no means of accessing the coverage.
The spokesperson said: "The average user is a kid or a person that doesn't have the means to see it any other way."
When Saturday comes...
While services like FirstRow have provided access to those wishing to skirt paying for Sky in the past, they also offer means for fans of clubs to watch their teams when the games aren't televised.
The Football Association has strict rules preventing games from being televised live at the traditional Saturday at 3pm kick-off time in the UK.
Other countries do not have such restrictions and streaming sites enable UK-based viewers to watch those games when previously there'd be no means of doing so.
Perhaps the Premier League's stance against piracy would be more understandable if it worked to make every game available to fans through legal means?
- With BT and Sky forking out so much for rights to Premier League action it's difficult to see them putting up too much of a fight in their dual roles as ISPs.
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