(Reuters) - Mobdro, the world's largest pirate streaming app, has ceased operations following an investigation and criminal referral by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE) and the English Premier League, the league said on Thursday.
Mobdro illegally streamed video content, including sports, from around the world on smart televisions, smartphones, tablets and other devices, the Premier League said in a statement https://www.premierleague.com/news/2024038.
ACE, a coalition of around 30 global entertainment companies and film studios aimed at tackling online piracy, led the investigation along with the Premier League which resulted in law enforcement action by Spanish police and Europol.
"Mobdro's criminal enterprise amounted to long-running and large-scale theft," Premier League Director of Legal Services Kevin Plumb said in the league statement on Thursday.
"These raids show we and ACE are committed to taking action against piracy.
"The protection of our copyright is hugely important to the Premier League and our broadcast partners, as well as the future health of English football."
The investigation began in 2018 when Spanish Police received complaints from several organisations, including the Premier League and Spanish soccer's top-flight La Liga, about a mobile application illegally distributing video streams, Europol said in a statement https://www.europol.europa.eu/newsroom/news/illegal-mobile-application-more-100-million-users-taken-down-in-spain.
A number of connected websites and platforms in Spain and Portugal with connections to servers in the Czech Republic were identified, with the company responsible estimated to have made over 5 million euros ($5.98 million) in illegal profits.
"Europol supported the Spanish National Police to dismantle a criminal group distributing illegal video streams. The investigation also involved law enforcement authorities from Andorra and Portugal," Europol added.
The Premier League has long grappled with the issue of piracy of its content.
In December, the league launched the second phase of its anti-piracy campaign in Malaysia and Hong Kong to highlight the dangers that illegal football streams pose, including data theft, malicious malware and poor viewing experience.
(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)