Who sells IPTV or TV Box plans can be arrested? And who buys?

IPTV services are very successful in Brazil. Free platforms like Pluto TV, Samsung TV Plus and LG Channels consolidated in the global market and popularized the technology in Brazil. But along with them, numerous illegal platforms have stolen market space and are present in the homes of many people out there. Is using a pirated IPTV so serious as to get arrested? And what can happen to those who sell these services?

First of all, we need to understand what these pirated services are. We will explain how they work, whether with an application, website or even TV Box and what legal risks you run when using such a service.

Is using IPTV illegal?

IPTV by itself is not illegal. In fact, it’s a technology that’s been very well received by the general public, especially those who want to stay up to date with the best in cable TV and streaming services, without having to pay a fortune for it. A few years ago, if you wanted to watch SporTV, Discovery Channel, History, Animal Planet, Space and so on, you would have to shell out a big fortune to have a subscription TV plan.

IPTV arrived and changed that. You can access all Pay TV channels, even with the same experience, however, without spending horrors and often without installation fee or equipment in lending. DirecTV Go, for example, is a company that had to adapt to this new market reality and today offers plans with more than 70 live channels for only R$ 79.90 — without a device or installation fee, requiring only a good internet connection.

There are websites that offer access to football matches completely free of charge; these are examples of illegal platforms (Credit: Canva/Reproduction)

An IPTV service becomes illegal when it does not have the proper authorization to broadcast the channel catalog. This is characterized as copyright infringementcan generate a unfair competition in the market. The legal holders of these broadcast content can suffer a great loss when many people access their channels, but do not pay or pay to a company that is not part of the approved partners of these studios.

Are there legal and free IPTV services?

It may be that some people believe that IPTV services are seen as illegal only when there is not even a payment made for it. This is not true. There are many platforms free and that offer access to their content in a fully legalizedwithout infringing any copyright — as we have already explained here at Oficina da Net.

Pluto TV is an example of a free and legal IPTV platform (Credit: Pluto TV/Reproduction)
Pluto TV is an example of a free and legal IPTV platform (Credit: Pluto TV/Reproduction)

But what if you pay to watch the channels? There are those who believe that any paid service does not infringe any law or copyright. This is also not true. As already mentioned, when a platform provides access to subscription-restricted content and still charges for it, it commits two major infractions. first she violates copyright for not having the authorization to transfer. Second, it generates unfair competition in the marketsince the amount charged by these platforms is usually well below what official companies charge.

In short, it is not because the service charges a kind of subscription that it is in fact a legal platform under Brazilian law. Furthermore, not all free alternatives are seen as a pirated service. Piracy involves the illegal distribution of any copyrighted contentbe it TV channels, movies, music, books and anything else you can imagine.

And the TV Box sets?

TV Box sets are one of the best man-made inventions in recent years. They are useful, practical, modern and with a very interesting proposal for those who want to have a smart TV, that is, a TV with internet access, but cannot afford one. In some cases, TV Box devices are even better than smart TVs themselves, as they have a more fluid and personalized system for consuming streaming and other content.

The Roku Express is one of the best TV Box options on the market (Credit: Roku/Play)
The Roku Express is one of the best TV Box options on the market (Credit: Roku/Play)

By itself, we cannot say that TV Boxes are illegal. After all, its purpose is to turn any TV — even old tube ones — into a smart TV. The problem is that some people tend to corrupt this original purpose and turn the device into a kind of illegal channel decoder.

You must have seen someone out there selling an IPTV Box that guarantees access to several channels. They usually cost a little more than the original device and promise access to several closed channels, in addition to Premiere, Combate, Telecine, Netflix, HBO Max and Spotify definitively, without any subscription. Anyone who has walked through 25 de Março, must have seen this type of product. Some people even advertise on social media.

BTV and HTV are some examples of IPTV box that you can find when walking along 25 de Março in São Paulo (Credit: BTV/Reproduction)
BTV and HTV are some examples of IPTV box that you can find when walking along 25 de Março in São Paulo (Credit: BTV/Reproduction)

It goes without saying that these are illegal devices, right? That is why many of these devices are seized in police operations or inspection agents of the Federal Revenue and Anatel. Every month, many, many TV Box sets are seized at the Port of Santos or at Ponte da Amizade, in Foz do Iguaçu, the main ways for these products to enter Brazil.

In short, TV Box is coolas long as it has the Anatel approval seal and does not have any operating system that provides access to closed TV channels and streaming applications clandestinely.

Is using illegal IPTV a crime? What does the law say about this?

As we have seen so far, by infringing copyright, using any service that distributes any type of content illegally can be considered a criminal practice. Like any crime, there needs to be a victim. In this case, victims are responsible for producing the content, which includes studios, producers, directors, authors, and so on.

O Article 7 of the Copyright Law protects all this audiovisual material against any type of piracy and, in accordance with the Article 184 of the Brazilian Penal Code, appropriating any protected content can generate some consequences for the violator. However, there are two situations to consider:

  • Copy for own profit: anyone who copies any copyrighted content with the aim of reselling for their own profit, the penalty is detention of two to four years in closed regime. This applies to IPTV apps and websites or the TV Box sets.
  • IPTV signal distribution: According to paragraph 3 of Article 184, anyone who sets up a clandestine network for transmitting the IPTV signal may apply a sentence of two to four years and fine. This conduct also violates Article 183 of the General Telecommunications Law, which prohibits the existence of any clandestine telecommunications network.

Although it is a crime, there are still few arrests

Even with defined penalties and fines, arrests for these illegal practices are still very rare. It is evident that throughout the national territory there are people who buy, sell and retransmit an illegal signal protected by copyright. Although, to initiate the investigation process, the injured party must submit a written representationwhich makes everything slower and slower in our country, as there are thousands of illegal IPTV platforms and more are emerging every day.

In 2018, together with Anatel and the Federal Revenue, the Federal Government created the Action Plan to Combat Piracy which has had good results against illegal IPTV services. However, in plain English, for an IPTV reseller to get to the point of being arrested and fined, it is necessary for someone to report it first.

Who uses pirated IPTV can be arrested?

So we come to the most delicate point of the whole story told here, since to circumvent the high prices charged by cable TV companies or legal IPTV, some people tend to use alternative services, which require a much lower cost or, in some cases, are totally free.

You may have heard that people who subscribe to these illegal services will never be arrested, but that’s not quite the case. O Article 180 of the Penal Codel provides that acquiring, receiving, transporting, conducting or hiding anything that you know to be the proceeds of crime, may generate a sentence of two to four years and application of a fine. It has been a few years since piracy has been applied in this case, but a recent operation by the Federal Police resulted in the blocking of 400 illegal IPTV websites and apps, as well as an awareness campaign for society.

Provided in the Brazilian Penal Code, using pirated services is considered a crime (Credit: Canva/Reproduction)
Provided in the Brazilian Penal Code, using pirated services is considered a crime (Credit: Canva/Reproduction)

By encouraging piracy, a person who purchases any illegal service Yes you can suffer with non-bailable imprisonment and a fine. It is true that these arrests are even rarer than for IPTV resellers, but it is something that is provided for by law and whoever wants to risk it, it is good to know that this is a possibility.

And you, what do you think of IPTV? Do you have to finish everything or is it very useful for those who can’t afford cable TV? Leave your opinion below!

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