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Mystery code appeared in pirated Mayweather vs McGregor streams

August 29, 2017  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Mystery code appeared in pirated Mayweather vs McGregor streams

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A strange mystery code allegedly appeared in some pirated streams of Saturday’s match between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor, eliciting suspicions that someone was trying to determine who was watching the fight illegally.

Saturday’s highly-anticipated match at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas was referred to as “the most pirated event in history,” and had already been subjected to legal action by Showtime Networks, which showed the fight via Pay-Per-View.

Copyright and filesharing site TorrentFreak said it had received an unconfirmed report that “an unusual watermark” was embedded into streams broadcast by Sky Sports Box Office, which was commissioned to play the fight in the U.K.

Mayweather is likely to pocket $400 million from the fight, while McGregor will receive $100 million 

Two other unidentified sources viewing pirated streams also told TorrentFreak that the unusual number and letter-based codes had also appeared on their screens.

“It’s possible that the numbers would allow Sky to track the illicit stream back to a subscriber and a set-top box tied to an account,” TorrentFreak stated. “Since that subscriber has then re-streamed that content online illegally, the code would act as a homing beacon and could spell bad news for the individual involved.”

Watermarks like the one seen in the stream are used in the broadcast business. However, TorrentFreak hypothesized that the code might have been inserted by someone in the illegal streaming business who wanted to keep control over the stream.

For many of those illegally streaming the fight through an unofficial source, a mystery code (center of image) reportedly appeared on their feed

There was significant international interest in the super-welterweight match, which signified 40-year-old Mayweather’s return to the ring and was the boxing debut of UFC Champ McGregor.

After withstanding an early attack from his 29-year-old opponent, Mayweather wore McGregor down as the fight continued. The 12-time champion beat the Irish MMA fighter by Technical Knockout when the referee concluded the match in the 10th round.

Two years ago, Mayweather’s world championship unification match with Manny Pacquiao, which was shown by HBO and Showtime, set a record high of 4.6 million pay-per-view purchases. However, Saturday’s fight was believed to have surpassed that number.

Those found to have been hosting illegal streams of the fight, either via Youtube, Facebook or online blogs, could face serious fines and even a jail sentence

According to Fox Business, pay-per-view purchases for Mayweather vs. McGregor could be around 5 million buys.

Eric Feinberg, an originating partner of deep web analysis company GIPEC, told Fox News that his company’s systems caught a number of pirated streams of Saturday’s fight on Facebook Live and YouTube Live, some of which had more than 25,000 paid views. “It’s a big deal,” he stated while discussing the implications of pirated streams across multiple sports. “It’s billions of dollars at risk … if you take one stream down, another will come.”

Last week, Facebook told Fox News that it applies “significant resources” to combat copyright issues for live content on its site. “Video publishers and media companies provide reference streams of live content that are checked against files in our Rights Manager tool,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “If a match surfaces, the Rights Manager takes action on the rule set by the rights holder – for example, to block the stream.”

The spokesperson noted that rights holders could also report live streams at any time during a broadcast. “We’ve been growing our team that processes these reports across time zones and invest in our copyright tools,” he added. “This remains a work in progress, and we listen to feedback from our partners to help improve our offerings.”

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