People who watch paid TV services like Netflix, Sky, and Prime Video for free could soon be in for a shock as police expand their clampdown on piracy.
More than 240 people have been arrested and fined for subscribing to a pirate IPTV platform offering access to the paid services for just £8.50 a month.
With Netflix’s basic plan costing £9.99 per month and Prime Video £7.99, access to these and other platforms effectively becomes free.
The arrests took place in Piacenza in Italy, after police tracked down customers of a local pirate TV provider. The offenders are now being threatened with eight year prison sentences and fines of up to £22,000.
The Italian authorities have tried for some years to reduce the availability of pirated TV, games, and movies.
Last year, the police busted 223 subscribers for the same offence, although it is unclear whether any prosecutions were ultimately successful.
Meanwhile, in the UK, investigators from FACT announced plans to team up with police and send Cease and Desist notices to those suspected of providing illegal streaming.
Kieron Sharp, the chief executive of FACT, said: “We employ a range of tactics to prevent the provision of illegal streaming.”
“By taking these measures we are sending a clear message. Piracy is fraud and anyone motivated by financial gain from doing this needs to know that this is a crime which will be taken seriously by police.”
Piracy is estimated to cost the UK around £9 billion and 80,000 job losses every year, according a 2019 report by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO).
Methods for pirating media are also growing increasingly more sophisticated, with pirates hiding access to free and stolen music, TV and films in mobile apps and encrypted message services.
Although British police have historically targeted the providers of pirated material, rather than consumers, it seems that this could soon be changing fast.