Cord-cutting sports fans that get their soccer fix through Chinese P2P apps are the new pet peeve of the U.S. Trade Representative, whose office publishes an annual report about countries with lax copyright enforcement called the Special 301 Report. This year’s edition, which just came out (PDF), makes special mention of of live sports piracy online, and recommends that countries like China and the Netherlands should step up their efforts to combat this type of piracy.
The timing of this isn’t entirely accidental. NBC’s decision to lock down its online coverage of the Winter Olympics behind a pay TV wall seems to have prompted many users to look for alternative ways to watch the games online. We did an admittedly completely unscientific poll earlier this year, and 10 percent of our readers told us that they used P2P services, live streaming sites or proxy servers to follow the Olympics.
The Special 301 Report is meant to put pressure on countries to commit to international treaties and institute as well as enforce stricter intellectual property laws. A big part of the report is dedicated to physical goods piracy as well as counterfeiting, bit torrent sites, live streaming and other forms of online piracy have been playing a bigger role in recent years. From the report:
“Unauthorized retransmission of live sports telecasts over the Internet continues to be a growing concern in many countries, particularly China, and ‘linking sites,’ many reportedly based in the Netherlands, are exacerbating the problem.”
The report later singles out the Chinese P2P TV app TV Ants as being “a notorious hub of online piracy with respect to sporting event telecasts.” However, TV Ants is incorrectly called a website. The actual website offering the TV Ants application for download seems to be down right now, but it is unclear whether this is related to it being singled out in this report.
Also mentioned in the report are Korean file hosters, commonly known as webhard services. The Special 301 report previously singled out torrent sites like The Pirate Bay in an effort to put pressure on countries like Sweden, but it fails to do so this time around, despite the fact that millions of people continue to use the Bay to swap files.
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