Content providers have declared open season on pirates. I’ve read several articles lately about how dozens of IPTV services have been shut down. Should you worry about this? What is an IPTV service anyway? Let’s dig in.
What is an IPTV service?
In the early days of streaming video, it was also called “IPTV” or “internet-protocol-television.” The terms IPTV and streaming were more or less interchangeable. However, in the last six or seven years, “streaming” has been taken to mean mainstream, legal delivery of internet video. IPTV generally refers to everything else. IPTV could mean:
- Video delivered privately over network lines, whether in one building or over the whole internet
- A video service that can only be accessed using a special player, not a normal streaming box
- Pirate videos, or illegal streaming
Have you streamed illegally?
You’ve probably seen these ads for “Kodi boxes” or that sort of thing. They claim to let you get all the channels you want for free. They have been very common in past years. Most common of all is “torrenting,” which is somewhat different from organized streaming.
With torrenting, information is kept on many different computers and a server acts as an intermediate, connecting someone who wants information with someone who has it. It’s a very effective way of distributing files and it’s also very hard to trace. That’s why it’s been used to pirate music and movies for close to a generation.
Chances are you’ve downloaded something in your life that you didn’t own. But that sort of minor, casual thing isn’t the point. The point is that there are these organized groups that are pirating TV and movies and offering them to the world either for free or for profit. That’s the problem.
Why are IPTV services disappearing now?
I think it has to do with the upcoming massive rollout of legal streaming services. By this time next year, Disney, Comcast, AT&T, and CBS will all have their own high-profile streaming services. These launches could be threatened by people who steal their content and give it away for a lower price.
So, you’re seeing the big media companies putting more and more pressure on the government to clean up illegal streaming. It only makes sense, because illegal streaming costs them money.
Should you be worried about prosecution?
Technically if you’ve used one of these services on a piece of hardware designed to get pirated video, you’re breaking the law. The odds that the government is going to beat down your door are pretty slim. They’re really not after you, they’re after the people who stream to you. What you need to know at this point is that if you have been relying on a free streaming service for a lot of content which other people pay for, the days of doing that are probably numbered.