Over the past couple of decades, piracy of live TV has broadly taken two forms. That which relies on breaking broadcaster encryption (such as card sharing and hacked set-top boxes), and the more recent developments of P2P and IPTV-style transmission.
With the former under pressure and P2P systems such as Sopcast and AceTorrent moving along in the background, streaming from servers is now the next big thing, whether that’s for free via third-party Kodi plugins or for a small fee from premium IPTV providers.
Of course, copyright holders don’t like any of this usage but with their for-profit strategy, commercial IPTV providers have a big target on their backs. More evidence of this was revealed recently when UK-based IPTV service ACE TV announced they were taking action to avoid problems in the country.
In a message to prospective and existing customers, ACE TV said that potential legal issues were behind its decision to accept no new customers while locking down its service.
“It saddens me to announce this, but due to pressure from the authorities in the UK, we are no longer selling new subscriptions. This obviously includes trials,” the announcement reads.
Noting that it would take new order for just 24 hours more, ACE TV insisted that it wasn’t shutting down but would lock down the service while closing Facebook.
TF sources and unconfirmed rumors online suggest that the Federation Against Copyright Theft and partners the Premier League are involved. However, ACE TV didn’t respond to TorrentFreak’s request for comment so we’re unable to confirm or deny the allegations.
That being said, even if the threats came directly from the police, it’s likely that the approach would’ve been initially prompted by companies connected to FACT, since the anti-piracy outfit often puts forward names of services for investigation on behalf of its partners.
Perhaps surprisingly, ACE TV is legally incorporated in the UK as Ace Hosting Limited, a fact it makes clear on its website. While easy to find, the company’s registered address is shared by dozens of other companies, indicating a mail forwarding operation rather than a place servers or staff can be found.
This proxy location may well be the reason the company feels emboldened to carry on some level of service rather than shutting down completely, but its legal basis for doing so is interesting at best, precarious at worst.
“This website, any content contained herein and any contract brought into being as a result of usage of this website are governed by and construed in accordance with English Law,” ACE TV’s website reads.
“The parties to any such contract agree to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales. All contracts are concluded in English.”
It seems likely that ACE TV has been threatened under UK law, since that’s where it’s incorporated. That would seem to explain why its concerned about UK authorities and their potential effect on the business. On the other hand, however, the service claims to operate entirely legally, but under the laws of the United States. It even has a repeat infringer policy.
“Ace Hosting operates as an intermediary to cache and deliver content hosted by others at the instruction of our subscribers. We cannot remove content hosted by others,” the company says.
“As an intermediary, we are entitled to rely upon (among other things) the DMCA safe harbor available to system caching service providers and we maintain policies and procedures to terminate subscribers that would be considered repeat infringers under the DMCA.”
Whether the notices on the site have been advised by a legal professional or are there to present an air of authenticity is unclear but it’s precarious for a service of this nature to rely solely on conduit status in order to avoid liability.
Marketing, prior conduct, and overall intent play a major role in such cases and when all of that is aired in the cold light of day, the situation can look very different to a judge, particularly in the UK, where no similar cases have been successfully defended to date.