At least three people were arrested in an operation to shut down four piracy streaming websites.
Qatar-based sports network beIN media has welcomed a move to shut down four pirate websites and arrest three people in connection with the crime in Egypt, a statement by the group confirmed on Wednesday.
The global sports network said it had been working alongside the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) to take down four major illegal live sport operators in Cairo, namely Goalarab.com, yalla-Shoot-7sry.com, yalla-shoot.us, yallashoot-news.com.
“The successful action against these four illegal piracy operations highlights the real-world value of the new partnership between beIN and ACE,” said Jan van Voorn, executive vice president and chief of Global Content Protection for the Motion Picture Association and head of ACE.
“Working together, we have the network, the resources and the expertise needed to tackle the serious threat piracy poses to media companies all over the world and to protect the legal marketplace for content creators.”
In a statement released on Wednesday, beIN said the four websites were among the most popular illegal live sports streaming websites in the region with a combined reach of more than 1.8 million users from Egypt and more than 4.8 million users globally during the month of May 2022 alone.
The online channels attracted some 24 million visitors globally who “watched illegal content stolen from beIN SPORTS channels,” the statement added.
A beIN spokesperson said broadcasting piracy threatens sports.
“These sites take funding away from sports fans, players and clubs of all levels and leagues. Actions like those undertaken by Egyptian law enforcement agencies are a huge victory. In concert with ACE, we collectively have the means to support takedowns of this nature throughout the region, and will continue to do so to protect the leagues, fellow broadcasters and the entire sporting ecosystem.”
The operation to take down the streaming services included some 60 Egyptian police officers who were supported by the Egyptian Ministry of Internal Affairs. Three people have been arrested in connection to the illegal operation, and authorities seized domains, assets, and IT equipment.
“The daily theft of sport and entertainment programs remains a key threat to the licensed services market. These actions taken by beIN and ACE are the beginning of the partners’ work to bring these pirates to justice. beIN and ACE will continue to work together in fighting online content theft and will release details of future operations in the coming months,” the statement added.
Egypt was among four countries in the region – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – that imposed an illegal land, sea, and air blockade on Qatar in June 2017.
Following the blockade, Saudi Arabia banned the Qatari sports broadcasting giant, an action that was followed by the emergence of a Saudi piracy outlet called ‘beoutQ’ – a pirate bay television broadcaster that primarily simulcasted beIN Sports programmes.
However, the 10-channel piracy entity only survived for two years.
In June 2020, the World Trade Organization (WTO) found that Saudi Arabia had breached its obligations under the organisation’s Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (“TRIPS Agreement”) by refusing to take legal action against the Riyadh-linked pirate broadcaster “beoutQ”.
The WTO also found the Saudi government guilty of engaging “in the promotion of public gatherings with screenings of beoutQ’s unauthorised broadcasts, including the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
However, tensions came to a head in 2021 with Doha and the quartet signed the Al Ula Agreement to restore diplomatic and trade ties, effectively ending a major regional crisis.
In January, a year following a thaw in relations between Qatar and the former blockading quartet, Doha and Riyadh agreed to suspend appeals over the WTO report.
Additionally in October of last year, it was reported that Qatari and Saudi officials reached an agreement to lift the ban on beIn Sports in the country, after four and a half years.
Meanwhile, a visit to Egypt by Qatar’s Amir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani last week suggests relations between Cairo and Doha have resumed as normal.