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Anti Piracy VP Says “Any Device” That Can Be Used To Infringe IP Should Be Made Illegal

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The ongoing and often extreme and overreaching battle against piracy within the audiovisual industry continues to escalate, with recent discussions focusing on devices capable of infringing intellectual property (IP) rights. As stated by Sheila Cassells, Executive VP at the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA), companies in the entertainment sector should be wary of “any technological development” that could potentially grant access to pirated content.

From historical technology like the VCR to modern advances like AI, all technology holds inherent potentials for piracy.

At the center of these discussions are specific devices including set-top boxes, Firesticks, and Android apps, often condemned for enabling piracy. The AAPA’s somewhat radical standpoint is a call to outlaw the production, marketing, and distribution of any such device.

However, such an approach is clearly flawed. Modern technology, by its nature, is a double-edged sword. Almost every product on our desks and in our homes—from monitors displaying unlicensed content to smartphones recording cinema videos—can technically infringe IP rights.

Referring to the Conditional Access Directive—a piece of EU legislation from 1998 designed to safeguard TV platforms providing conditional-access content—Cassells points out the possibility of legislation narrowing down the scope of what constitutes an illicit device.

The basic tenet lies in “intent.” If a device and its supporting promotional material implicitly intend to infringe IP rights, its legality will likely be challenged.

A case in point is the Firestick, Torrent Freak reports. These devices are not illegal but can be if manipulated with software or alterations explicitly designed to breach IP rights, regardless of the original manufacturer’s intent – much like any device really.

Taking a step back, it becomes clear that devices explicitly designed and marketed to bypass IP rights are already illegal in many regions, as the Torrent Freak report says is evidenced by the legal verdict in the Filmspeler case in the Netherlands.

Therefore, the predominant focus of the problem should not be to legislate these devices, but rather an emphasis on enforcement—targeting the illegal entry, distribution, and sale of such devices within the EU.

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