A LaLiga team to score goals in Brussels | It’s LaLiga
Laura Vilches always found a warm welcome accompanied by a certain amazement among the first representatives of the community institutions who received her, back in 2015, as head of LaLiga’s European Affairs. “What is a Spanish soccer delegate doing here in Brussels?”, She remembers that her interlocutors used to ask her. The jurist, recently released in office, wielded the need for the sports organization to be aware of legislative changes and convey their point of view on them after achieving the centralized sale of broadcasting rights.
Six years later, the same question can now be answered with concrete facts, such as the “historic milestone” achieved last May. This is how Vilches describes the resolution of the European Parliament urging the Commission, the body that proposes laws and supervises their application in the European Union, to improve “the current legal framework on the intellectual property rights of live sporting events” and to elaborate “ specific provisions ”on the“ rights of the organizers ”. A victory as a result of the awareness-raising work carried out, among others, by this 43-year-old Sevillian.
The fight against piracy – an activity that caused losses of 2,416 million euros in 2020 in Spain, according to the Coalition of Creators – is a priority for Spanish professional football. This is demonstrated by the existence of LaLiga Content Protection, a department dedicated exclusively to eradicating illegal signals from live matches and other content about the competition. In six years of life, and after becoming a subsidiary of LaLiga Tech last summer, this team has multiplied its staff by 16 to protect LaLiga and dozens of sports actors.
However, the effort in creating technological tools and investing in cybersecurity experts, developers, social media specialists or computer engineers is not enough, warns Miguel Ángel Leal, general director of LaLiga Tech. “Piracy uses technology and Therefore, it requires a technological solution. But it must be accompanied by a legal framework that evolves and responds with agility to the steps of the offenders in order to evade said framework ”, he argues.
To end the excessive time that sometimes elapses between the detection and reporting of an illegal broadcast and the subsequent withdrawal, which depends on third parties, they estimate in LaLiga, legislative changes are required. Hence, they incorporated a professional like Vilches, dedicated since 2007 to matters related to intellectual property in sectors such as cinema in Brussels, and that in 2017 they opened a representative office in the Belgian capital. Andrea Oriol, LaLiga Global Network delegate for the Benelux countries (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg), also works there, as well as the head of European Affairs.
“Our mission is that our voice is heard and, for this, a large part of our work is to seek and strengthen alliances with other actors. The more of us, the better ”, says Vilches. In Europe, he details, the main speaker of the organizers of sporting events such as LaLiga, is an organization called the Sports Rights Owners Coalition (SROC), where top-level tournaments such as the Premier League, MotoGP, Roland are represented. Garros or the Ryder Cup. Worldwide, the Coalition Against Online Video Piracy stands out, whose administrator, Sacha Tarrant, combines this role with his position as vice president of digital strategy in the NBA. “Each member brings a unique perspective and contributes by sharing information based on their organization’s individual efforts to enforce the law,” says Tarrant. Likewise, LaLiga is in other alliances alongside companies in the cultural and creative sector that are also waging a fight. against piracy.
The resolution of the European Parliament is a first step, argues the head of European Affairs of LaLiga, because it affected the specific problem of piracy of broadcasts of sporting events whose economic value depends largely on the live broadcast and that, therefore, They require rapid mechanisms to remove illegal access to content that is consumed for 90 minutes, in a specific period of time. “The main problem we find ourselves with today is that each country has its own laws, there is no common framework. Now the Commission will have to study what measures can be taken. We know that it will be a long road and that we must continue to raise awareness among community institutions, ”argues Vilches.
The fight unfolds across the five continents
LaLiga’s work is not only limited to the confines of Spain or Europe. By owning the rights to broadcast a competition that is broadcast in all countries of the world, your matches are susceptible to being hacked from any location.
The counterpart of Laura Vilches, dedicated to seeking legislative improvements in the rest of the continents, is Juan Rotger. This Argentine lawyer specializing in intellectual property issues who passed through LaLiga Business School, LaLiga’s training project with specialized masters in the world of sport, has become the head of the organization’s global content protection. His mission since then is to travel the planet in search of allies in the fight against piracy, assist international operators in protecting content and attend forums and meetings with experts wherever necessary to find out the latest news in a field. , he says, “very, very complex where everything is in continuous evolution”. Until the pandemic allowed it, of course.
“Now everything is done through videoconferencing, but my job is the same. I am in constant contact with people and organizations from Asia, Africa or Latin America. The complexity of my work lies in understanding and finding solutions for a hacking that is committed differently on each site ”, he explains.
Rotger, 30, illustrates this with a couple of examples. In most of the African continent, he explains, “when we talk about types of piracy, cable operators predominate, which, with an appearance of legality, offer parties illegally.” In Asia, on the contrary, “there is the problem of web pages that give the signal of the competition without paying for the permissions”.
In the same way, each country has a more or less strict legislation with pirates. Although in most geographical regions it is a problem that is beginning to be taken increasingly into account, Rotger highlights the cases of Malaysia or Peru, where LaLiga had the opportunity to collaborate several times with the authorities and where measures were imposed to accelerate the blocking illegal signals on the Internet.
The lawyer has no doubts that his work and that of the rest of his colleagues who work in the fight against piracy from the offices and offices is having an impact. “Whatever the country, what is proven is that when measures to block illegal content are imposed, piracy decreases. Therefore, the fight advances ”.