back to article UK to block Kodi pirates in real-time: Saturday kick-off

Last week in the High Court, Justice Arnold agreed to a request from the Football Association and the Premier League, and supported by the BBC, amongst others, that broke new ground, technically and legally. The order, which has the support of the major UK ISPs, is unusual in several ways. It permits the ISPs to block access …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Defendants

    What do you call it when the defendants in a case don't actually defend, because the ruling is in their self-interest?

    1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Re: Defendants

      I'm not sure there is anything to defend. I'd be very surprised if the providers of these "infringing streams" haven't already put measures in place to circumvent, either by design or as a workaround.

      Ultimately I have a feeling that this mass rush to spend as much as possible on sporting rights will end up eating itself anyway as more and more people realise that they are just not worth the money.

    2. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Defendants

      "because the ruling is in their self-interest?"

      How is something that encourages people to use ISPs other than the big 5 that don't have these blocks in their interest?!

    3. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Defendants

      An excuse.

    4. John G Imrie Silver badge

      Re: Defendants

      I don't know what you call the defendants but the case is usually called a test case

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Defendants

        One football subscriber is worth several broadband subscribers.

      2. sal II

        Re: Defendants

        "How is something that encourages people to use ISPs other than the big 5 that don't have these blocks in their interest?!"

        They are all also TV providers and sports packages are much more expensive than broadband.

        Also in many areas there is no alternative

      3. d3vy Silver badge

        Re: Defendants

        "How is something that encourages people to use ISPs other than the big 5 that don't have these blocks in their interest"

        I'd imagine the smaller ISPs might have a change in stance on this when they find non trivial % of their users all streaming the same content from a foreign server at the same time bringing the network to a grinding halt.

        1. TheVogon Silver badge

          Re: Defendants

          "I'd imagine the smaller ISPs might have a change in stance on this when they find non trivial % of their users all streaming the same content from a foreign server at the same time bringing the network to a grinding halt."

          Like Netflix, Apple Play and Amazon Video you mean?

          1. d3vy Silver badge

            Re: Defendants

            @TheVogon

            "Like Netflix, Apple Play and Amazon Video you mean?"

            No not at all, bandwidth being sucked up by netflix etc will be fairly constant and predictable, what we are talking about here is streamed live football which has a massive following who will all want to watch it live.

            So if (say) plusnet usually have 25% of their bandwidth being sucked up by streaming services and then suddenly find that Saturday afternoon for 90 minutes that % jumps into the high 90s do you not think that will have a knock on effect?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Horses for courses

              "streamed live football which has a massive following who will all want to watch it live."

              Sounds like the ideal motivation for ISPs and others (router vendors?) to finally get IP multicast working right then, surely, rather than letting it gather dust because "no one wants it"?

              1. d3vy Silver badge

                Re: Horses for courses

                "Sounds like the ideal motivation for ISPs and others (router vendors?) to finally get IP multicast working right then, surely, rather than letting it gather dust because "no one wants it"?"

                Yeah I agree that would be a great solution. But then you're back to running a paid subscription service that people wont pay for while theres a free stream available too...

                Unless you are suggesting multicasting the pirated/unlicenced streams that fixes nothing.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Horses for courses

                  "running a *legitimate decent quality at a sensible price* paid subscription service that people wont pay for while theres a *carp quality marginally legal* free stream available too..."

                  Spot the difference?

            2. TheVogon Silver badge

              Re: Defendants

              "do you not think that will have a knock on effect?"

              Nope. Football will be negligible versus all the other streaming that's going on....

    5. Doc Ock

      Re: Defendants

      >What do you call it when the defendants in a case don't actually defend, because the ruling is in their self-interest?

      A Cartel

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Defendants

        "cartel"

        Correct. Real competition is a wonderful thing. BT vs Sky vs Virgin is not competition. They consume themselves, get fatter, and continue to consume each other. Ditto Power providers, rail franchises. If the competition isn't real, there's no point in having these endeavors in the free market at all. All of the above need real aggressive regulation. Which as of today, doesn't exist.

        1. Spit The Dog

          Re: Defendants

          Correct - The good ol' U.K.and U.S.A. They love the free market, they hate competition...

          1. d3vy Silver badge

            Re: Defendants

            "Correct - The good ol' U.K.and U.S.A. They love the free market, they hate competition"

            We are not talking about competition though are we - If this was competition we would be talking about licencing rights for the games.

            What is happening is someone, somewhere is re-broadcasting a subscription only service to people without a subscription. Thats not competition.

            If you were in the business of developing software and relied third party components that you needed to licence (for a fee) and I came along with my software which does exactly the same thing but is cheaper because Im using a hooky copy of the third party components you'd be pissed off wouldnt you? regardless of how much money you were making I would be taking *some* of your sales.

    6. choleric

      Re: Defendants

      >What do you call it when the defendants in a case don't actually defend, because the ruling is in their self-interest?

      A fixed match.

    7. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Defendants

      Most streams still worked just fine here last 2 Saturdays in a row....

      I found that "Hotspot VPN" is a handy free way of unlocking anything else and works for Kodi on both Windows and Android. (The Windows Store version doesn't work - download it from their website).

      The free version is limited to USA servers only, and pops up occasional ads on web browsing. Works just fine for video back to the EU though. A quick speed test showed 30Mb/S back to the UK - not bad for free...

      1. TheVogon Silver badge

        Re: Defendants

        Just found out Hotspot VPN free version also has limit of 250MB / day Android / 750MB Windows. Still, it's free...

        Apparently an average football game stream needs about 450MB.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meh

    If the only thing this prohibits is feetsball then (at least in my case) i can carry on regardless!

    1. TheVogon Silver badge

      Re: Meh

      "If the only thing this prohibits is feetsball then (at least in my case) i can carry on regardless!"

      As opposed to hand egg that they play in the colonies you mean? Good luck using say Twitch on a Saturday afternoon then as some streams use that now!

      imo the streamers will just switch to CDNs and other mixed services if they don't already use them, which a) have hundreds of servers, and b) carry so much varied content that blocking them would have way too wide an impact...

    2. mr_souter_Working

      Re: Meh

      "feetsball" - i like it

      lump this and all the other sports in a barrel and shove it into the sea.

      i could not possibly care any less about if any sport is on any form of television, provided i am neither obliged to watch it, nor pay for it. if Sky/Virgin/BT/et al want to gouge the people that want to watch it, that's their issue. I don't think the BBC should be squandering out license fee and trying to outbid any of them.

      1. rh587

        Re: Meh

        imo the streamers will just switch to CDNs and other mixed services if they don't already use them, which a) have hundreds of servers, and b) carry so much varied content that blocking them would have way too wide an impact...

        Yes, that was my first thought. How soon before someone starts bouncing it through AWS or Azure (if they aren't already), and we see over-blocking of unrelated services. They say overblocking is a "low risk", but it's an arms race - they've been able to run exposed servers so far, now the ISPs are running short-term, transitory blocks they'll run and hide behind Cloudflare/Akamai/<CDN>.

    3. Halfmad

      Re: Meh

      I prefer the term "Sniperdeathball" as that's what it looks like when they dive.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Meh

      Yep personally I don't care it they block feetsball either.

      Now if they are smart instead of blocking from the start they will monitor the streams carefully then block them 5 minutes into the second half just to piss off the people enjoying the pirated content and make them want to cough up for a subscription next time.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I take 2 things from this.

    1. That someone needs to distinguish between people running the software Kodi, pre-installed on a stick with plugins for accessing football matches.

    2. The football season ends in May.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: I take 2 things from this.

      Unfortunately I think the *next* season starts in April :(

      Countdown to proxy shift and VPN access in 5..4..3..2..

      Not entirely sure that nearly two hours counts as 'a few minutes'

    2. paulm

      Re: I take 2 things from this.

      2. The football season ends in May.

      Unfortunately, the next season starts in June.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I take 2 things from this.

      I think you misted an '.. and ...' in point 1. i.e. Who are you distinguish between?

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: I take 2 things from this.

        I learnt that the authorities are totally unaware that vpns and alternative dns servers circumvent all the above.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I take 2 things from this.

          Not new, the goal is to try and stop most people from doing it forgetting that they're forcing the proles to learn. Lessons from history, when banning prostitution everywhere but in a swamp, the local folk set about draining the swamp and building a town there. People are far more industrious than the authorities give them credit for.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: I take 2 things from this.

            "forgetting that they're forcing the proles to learn."

            The proles didn't learn to find and stream questionable content or to by-pass blocking mechanisms. They learned how to buy a device that lets them click menu items that does it for them, in some cases without even realising they are doing something that may be illegal. It would actually be nice if they were learning about this sort of stuff because then they'd be more concious of security on t'internet and be more aware of the state sponsored data slurping, spying and monitoring that RIPA and Snoopers Charter 2.0 allows for people like GCHQ and your local traffic wardens.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: I take 2 things from this.

          "I learnt that the authorities are totally unaware that vpns and alternative dns servers circumvent all the above."

          I think the authorities are aware that Joe Public neither knows nor cares about "techy stuff" but can easily buy a "fully loaded Kodi device", plug it in and use it, as was reported in the article. If and when these devices are available cheaply, are plug'n'play and come pre-set with alternative DNS and/or VPN clients pre-configured, then something new may have to happen, but for now, Joe Public will likely be stymied for at least the start of the season. It all depends on if patches/fixes/workarounds are pushed to affected device from the iffy repos, assuming the sellers bothered to set things up properly in the first place.

          1. TheVogon Silver badge

            Re: I take 2 things from this.

            " and come pre-set with alternative DNS and/or VPN clients pre-configured,"

            Already do. Try the "Mega" Wookie community build for KODI for instance. Several default service providers that you just need to insert subscription details for...

  4. 2460 Something

    Inevitable.

    This decision was going to happen at some time, but it isn't foolproof by any means or suggestion, no matter how 'under wraps' they want to keep their methodology, it most likely will form around a mixture of packet matching, deep packet inspections and tcp/udp connections.

    For those that have setup the systems themselves, the great game of cat and mouse begins. For those that bought a pre-packaged one, they will either adapt and learn enough to change source, or use an alternative 'service'.

    Easiest circumvention though is to just get your service provided by an ISP that isn't listed, failing that set up a VPN tunnel to circumvent interference.

    Where there is a will, there is a way. Of course by far the most appropriate methodology would be to charge a reasonable amount for subscription services, time and time again it has been demonstrated that when given an easy to use, appropriately priced, legal service, most people will switch to it rather than suffer the hassle.

  5. Dan 55 Silver badge
    FAIL

    Why the obsession with Kodi?

    One-legged patch wearing types with birds on their shoulders can go direct to the streaming websites too.

    Never has a media player with a custom UI and a Python interpreter come in for so much unwarranted stick.

  6. Chris Hills
    Big Brother

    1984

    This is a test for real-time censorship. I don't like where this is going.

  7. nijam Silver badge

    If only there were a way to block all football streaming, not just the pirated stuff.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Short term 'fix'

    Won't the people providing the footy streams just switch to a distributed tech instead? That is going to be more difficult to block at source, as it is streamed from all the individual watchers of the stream.

    As an example, the ShowBox Android app (which tends to be installed on a lot of the pre-configured Kodi boxes), can already stream directly from torrents. You have the option to stream direct from a server (typically 6 servers to pick from), or from a torrent stream.

    The only issue I've seen with the torrent streams is it took a little longer for them to buffer (presumably as it's not just streaming from the start, but fetching multiple blocks, and it needs a few before playback can start).

    I've no idea if any of the Kodi plug-ins do this yet (not used it myself for a couple of years), but if not, it's likely only a matter of time.

  9. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

    Curious argument

    They claim that the money received by FAPL goes to clubs, facilities and the wider community. Would love to have seen them nailed down to show what percentage actually reaches that 'wider community' rather than being funneled into pay packets at the club.

    I should say though that I have a vested interest here....the more that football is bought up by Sky/BT et al, the less likely I will accidentally have it appear on my TV.

  10. chivo243 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Heavies

    throwing their weight around... Or are they fattyfattyboombolatties?

    Nothing like groups with big cash and influence getting their way....

  11. Avatar of They Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    I discern a few more things from this.

    1. Football is definitely a business, not a sport.

    2. ISPs should be banned from sponsorship.

    3. More sport (so called) should be free to air and NOT paid for subscription.

    4. The law can be bought.

    Not that I care 1 tiniest of ioatas as I don't like football and don't use Kodi.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing's free

    I can see how going to a website might compromise your PC but what is the benefit to the people who run the servers. Do the Kodi add-ons contain other forms of malware/spyware?

    Asking for a friend :)

  13. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

    Will it work?

    No.

  14. Forget It
    Coffee/keyboard

    Conflict of interest

    anybody?

    1. Apemantus

      Re: Inevitable.

      Agree about keep it simple and affordable and they will pay up not pirate. Actually have some competition, so consumers have a choice which broadcaster to select for a game too.

      Also a kick in the teeth that you pay the subscription, to see football, can't see all your teams games and also get adverts stuffed in your face at every available moment despite paying the bloody sub!

    2. Jo_seph_B

      Re: Why the obsession with Kodi?

      Exactly. Although in some ways Kodi must be loving all this publicity. Their name could end up being the next hoover at this rate! Ok, maybe a stretch too far but you get the idea!

      1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        Re: Why the obsession with Kodi?

        > Although in some ways Kodi must be loving all this publicity.

        Quite the opposite (at least publicly). Where they've identified people selling "Fully loaded" Kodi installs, they've threatened to use their trademark to prevent those sales.

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