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Illegal streamers blocked

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Football fans will find it more difficult to stream matches illegally after a High Court blocking order hailed as a major victory by the Premier League.

The Premiership has obtained an injunction requiring internet service providers to promptly block access to servers that are illegally showing its games this season.   Once notified by the Premier League, the ISPs must act while the match is being played.   Some ISPs will be especially willing to cooperate as they are the victims of piracy themselves.

It is estimated that more than a third of football fans watch the sport illegally, typically streaming games on websites or using so-called fully-loaded Kodi boxes which are set-top boxes that come equipped with illegal streaming channels.   Rogue vendors sell these boxes 'fully loaded' with the add-ons for between £40 and £100 a box.

It is estimated that more than five million households use set-top boxes equipped with legitimate Kodi software but loaded with illegal apps.   According to the Intellectual Property Office, the proportion of TV viewers who stream illegally increased from 20 per cent to 22 per cent last year.

Some vendors have recently been arrested in police anti-piracy operations. One dealer who bought cheap top-set boxes from China and loaded them with illegal add-ons was recently sentenced to a suspended prison sentence of 18 months and 180 hours of unpaid work.   Others have faced six figure fines following civil prosecutions.

This is the first full season order but earlier this season the Premiership secured a similar ruling for the last two months of the 2016-17 season which allowed it to block about 5,000 IP addresses.  Before the orders, the league could only order the takedown of individual streams.