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  • Writer's pictureOliver Walsh

A United Front: The Role of International Cooperation in Combating the Surge of Illegal IPTV

Updated: Jan 29


Let's delve into a pressing issue causing quite a stir in the audio-visual industries - the surge of illegal IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) services. This isn't just a local headache; it's a global migraine affecting content creators, broadcasters, and legal streaming services worldwide. But there's a silver lining - international cooperation. Remember the recent headline-grabbing shutdown by Indonesia, Korea, and INTERPOL? That's what we're talking about. Let's explore how countries working together can combat digital piracy. 

The Growing Threat of Illegal IPTV 

Illegal IPTV services are like a digital hydra; you cut off one head off, and two more seem to sprout. They're offering unauthorised access to TV shows, movies, and live sports, hitting the content-creating industries where it hurts - the wallet. It's not just about lost revenue,; it's about copyright infringement on a massive scale. The tricky part? These services often operate across borders, making it challenging for any country to take them down. This is where our story of international teamwork begins. 

International Cooperation: Success Stories and Strategies 

One of the most remarkable success stories in the fight against illegal IPTV is the recent joint action between Korea, Indonesia, and INTERPOL. Under the umbrella of INTERPOL's Stop Online Piracy Project (I-SOP), this operation successfully dismantled a criminal group that had been illegally streaming 72 Korean and international channels and distributing nearly 110,000 video files. 


The illegal service, which ran for about nine years, targeted Korean expatriates craving real-time broadcasting content from their homeland. The operation caused estimated losses of over KRW 16 billion KRW (USD 1.23 million). The suspects ingeniously subscribed to 40 Korean cable TV service accounts and rebroadcasted the content to Indonesia, providing video-on-demand (VOD) services through TV boxes, applications, and web browsers. 


This operation wasn't just a one-country effort. INTERPOL was crucial in coordinating joint enforcement actions between Korean and Indonesian officials. The collaboration involved the Indonesian Directorate General of Intellectual Property (DGIP), the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST), and the Korean National Police Agency (KNPA). The arrests of three suspects behind this service are a testament to the effectiveness of international cooperation. 


This successful operation began with a tip-off to Indonesian officials in May 2023, culminating in simultaneous raids in both countries in late October. The involvement of INTERPOL facilitated critical meetings and coordination that bridged the efforts of Korean and Indonesian officials. 


LIM Seonghwan, the Director General of the Copyright Bureau MCST, emphasized their ongoing commitment: 


The MCST's Copyright Crime Forensic Investigation Division will continue to expand international cooperation investigations in collaboration with INTERPOL's I-SOP project to address copyright infringement crimes occurring overseas. We also plan to enhance our digital investigative capabilities, including digital forensics." Source. 


The I-SOP project, a five-year initiative funded by the MCST, aims to address crimes involving intellectual property infringement. The project underscores the broader context in which digital piracy operates, affecting not only creative industries like film, TV, music, and publishing but also the economy at large. Illegal downloads and distribution of infringing content lead to substantial financial losses, impacting tax revenue and jobs. Moreover, the linkage of these crimes to other illegal activities, such as terrorist financing, money laundering, and human trafficking, adds another layer of complexity. 


This case is a prime example of how international cooperation and coordinated strategies can lead to significant victories against illegal IPTV operations. It's a blueprint for future actions, demonstrating the power of unity in the face of global digital threats. 

Moving Forward: Strengthening International Alliances 

As we think about how to tackle the issue of illegal IPTV in the future, it's essential to consider strengthening and enhancing international alliances that have been previously established. Our goal is not just to catch the perpetrators but to create a sustainable and cooperative framework that can adapt to the evolving challenges in this domain. 

There is a pressing need for better policy coordination among international partners to combat illegal IPTV. This requires aligning legal standards and enforcement practices to create a more unified approach. Doing so will make it easier to take cross-border actions and eliminate legal loopholes that offenders often exploit. 

It is crucial to establish more robust communication channels that enable real-time sharing of intelligence and best practices among countries. This will help create a proactive environment where countries can anticipate and respond swiftly to emerging threats. Regular global meetings and forums should be organised to maintain alignment and keep all stakeholders informed about the latest developments and strategies. These gatherings serve as a platform for continuous dialogue and collaboration, ensuring that all parties remain synchronised. 

Furthermore, the role of the private sector cannot be overstated in this fight against digital piracy. Companies and organizations operating in technology, entertainment, and broadcasting have a wealth of invaluable expertise and resources in devising innovative solutions and strategies. Their involvement is crucial, not only in implementing these strategies but also in driving technological advancements that can aid in detecting and preventing illegal IPTV activities. 



In conclusion, strengthening global partnerships to combat illegal IPTV requires a comprehensive strategy that includes coordinated policies, improved communication, regular strategic meetings, and strong public-private partnerships. By strengthening these pillars, the international community can build a more formidable defence against the scourge of digital piracy, protecting the integrity of the audio-visual industry and the broader creative economy. 

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