STOCKHOLM: The formal fightback against Arab-region pirating of sports rights have resulted in resounding victory in the Swedish courts for the Qatari BeIN Media Group.
BeIN and Albania-based pay-TV platform Digitalb have been awarded more than €20m against Arabic provider Advanced TV Network . The three senior executives of of ATN Network, which claimed to be the ‘biggest Arabic IPTV provider in the world’, have also been handed prison sentences ranging from one year to two and a half years, along with huge fines.

Nordic Content Protection, the anti-piracy group for Nordic broadcasters, originally filed the complaint against Malmo-based ATN in 2016 to Sweden’s Intellectual Property Crime at National Operations Department and the International Prosecution Office.

An official statement, as reported by SportCal,  said the pirate network has been accused on providing its customers with access to illegal streams of more than 2,000 channels, with a focus on channels emanating from the Middle East and Turkey.

The official release, which was jointly issued by Nordic Content Protection, BeIN and Digitalb, read: ”

The defendants were also ordered to pay a total of €18.8 million ($21.9 million) in damages (plus interest and legal costs) to BeIN Media Group and €1.4 million (US$1.5 million) in damages (plus interest and legal costs) to Digitalb Sh.A, the two legitimate broadcasters who were victims of the piracy.

“ATN is based in Malmo, Sweden but also has operations in the United States, Greece, Denmark and Canada. Its activities consist of appropriating the reception and then decoding, packaging and re-transmitting television broadcasts to its own paying clientele.

“The ruling announced today has dealt a significant blow to ATN’s ability to operate moving forwards; and sends a resounding message to pirate broadcast operations around the world that enforcement authorities are applying the full force of the law to extinguish the illegal operations.”

BeIN is contesting the aggressive business of BeoutQ, a pirate TV service which has been illegally streaming multi-billion-dollar soccer content in the Middle East and North Africa including the current World Cup.

Nordic Content Protection confirmed that ATN has been distributing BeoutQ’s tournament coverage.

World governing body FIFA and European federation UEFA complained about the BeoutQ operation which is directed linked to the Saudi Arabia-led blockade of Qatar.