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LaLiga Targets Apple & Google Bosses For Failing to ‘Remote Delete’ IPTV App

By iptv.legal , in App Store apple google Google Play IPTV and Streaming LaLiga Lawsuits newplay , at April 22, 2024

Spain found itself at the center of a worldwide controversy last month when it was revealed that various rightsholders had somehow managed to convince a local judge to block Telegram in its entirety.

Under intense pressure, the judge quickly rolled back the decision after an advisor concluded that the planned measure was massively disproportionate. Just weeks later, a row over an app that’s no longer available from any official app store, seems to be heading towards another controversy and yet more debate on what constitutes a proportionate response to online piracy.

This time top-tier football league LaLiga stands front and center.

Newplay: Popular .M3U Player Unpopular With LaLiga

For an explanation of the capabilities of the Newplay app, here’s what LaLiga itself told the European Commission in a 2022 submission to its Counterfeiting and Piracy Watch List (pdf, translated)

The ‘Newplay IPTV’ player application, developed by ITECH SLU, is one of the main player apps focused on Spain. In 2021, more than 900,000 users downloaded the app through Google Play, in Spain alone. This application has its own website (www.newplay.site) and has various profiles on social networks and communication channels: Telegram (+17k members); Twitch (+2,000 followers); Instagram (+29.2k followers); YouTube (23k subscribers). Through these, the use of the app is promoted. As can be seen in the attached evidence, through this application users can access various audiovisual content such as sports, TV channels, series, movies, etc.

That the description above offered plenty of facts and figures for everything except the alleged infringement, which only gets a line of attention right at the end, isn’t exactly typical of these kinds of submissions. The evidence amounted to a screenshot of a video of the app on YouTube, showing icons for various TV channels, two of which appeared to relate to LaLiga.

Crucially, there were no claims that the app arrives in the hands of users already configured to supply LaLiga match streams, nor was there any mention that the app requires users to supply their own M3U playlists. However, there was a screenshot of a comment made by a user querying an in-app message (“It asks me to enter a URL, what do I have to do?”) and two responses.

One response appeared to be from someone affiliated with Newplay, who wrote: “You have to add or create a channel list.” The other response linked to a URL where a playlist could be obtained. If that playlist had been posted by someone working for Newplay, that could’ve caused problems. There are no signs that was the case though; in isolation it only adds weight to the claim that no channels were provided in the app.

LaLiga Takes Complaint to Court

In the same month as the submission, April 2022, LaLiga walked away from a Spanish court (Juzgado de. Instrucción Nº 1 de Cieza) with an order that targeted Newplay.

The order is referenced multiple times on the LaLiga website but no copy has been posted for public consumption and, thus far, we’ve had no luck locating a copy. The big question is whether the order was handed down after an adversarial procedure or one that relied purely on evidence supplied by LaLiga.

What does seem clear, however, is that the order required various intermediaries to take action to undermine Newplay’s ability to remain functional. Whether the companies took action before or after the order was handed down isn’t clear but Google, Apple, and Huawei acted similarly by removing Newplay from their app stores.

But for LaLiga’s top man, that wasn’t enough. Last September, Javier Tebas revealed that LaLiga had “eliminated” 58 pirate apps, by unspecified means, together worth a million downloads in Spain. He said that having “eliminated” the apps, LaLiga wanted Google to ‘locate’ apps already downloaded onto users phones, so they too could be “eliminated”. If the same can be done for child abuse images, then the same should apply to piracy tools, Tebas said.

There was no official response from Google, but it’s not difficult to see why the prospect of digging into users’ phones, to remotely delete content, could be problematic. The privacy implications alone could cause huge headaches, as LaLiga is well aware; a 250,000 euro fine for turning fans phones into piracy spying devices should’ve been an instant reminder, logically at least.

Instead, LaLiga is doubling down

According to an eLDiario.es report, LaLiga has now asked the investigating judge in the Newplay case to charge the local directors of Google, Apple, and Huawei, with “a crime of serious disobedience.” This relates to their alleged failures to prevent users of their app ecosystems from continuing to use downloaded copies of Newplay that still exist on their devices.

It’s a crime that carries a sentence of up to a year in prison.

In these preliminary proceedings, Google, Apple, and Huawei as corporate entities also stand accused of the same “crime of serious disobedience.” They also stand accused of cooperating with Newplay’s developer while profiting from his allegedly infringing, ad-supported activities.

“The person under investigation used his ‘simple’ video player as a necessary instrument for his clients to access the Television services he offered in exchange for a subscription or advertising, violating the rights of the content owners,” LaLiga informed the court, as recalled by elDiario.es.

In addition to removing the app from their stores, the order required Google, Apple, and Huawei to “prevent users” who had downloaded app from “accessing the application.” It further ordered them to “immediately cease payment of commissions” derived from Newplay’s paid version (without ads) and make available to the court “the amounts that may be pending delivery” to the Newplay developer.

According to LaLiga, the companies haven’t complied in either respect. All three refused to comment for legal reasons.

As reported this weekend, the app Smart IPTV was blocked by ISPs in Spain recently. In common with Newplay, Smart IPTV is also an .M3U player and comes with no infringing content or links.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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