17 Years of Prison for UK TV Pirates; Spanish Police Leads ‘Big Hit’ on Euro Pirate Servers

Copyright theft is serious, and results in millions of dollars of lost revenue for legitimate businesses including telcos. So it is good to see the law being upheld when pirates have used the internet for the illegal streaming of television. Recent news includes the story of three British criminals who were sentenced to a combined 17 years in prison for their systematic piracy of football coverage, whilst police forces in Spain, Denmark and the UK have all conducted raids against a different gang who ran 800 pirate channels across Europe.

An announcement by the UK Premier League tells of three internet-powered pirates who made money by supplying live football games to pubs around Britain:

Trading under the names Dreambox (unincorporated), Dreambox TV Limited, and Digital Switchover Limited, via websites at dreamboxtv.co.uk and yourfootie.com, the three men had provided illegal access to Premier League football to more than 1,000 pubs, clubs, and homes throughout England and Wales. The fraudulent companies earned in excess of £5million through their illegal activity.

Reuters explained why the pursuit of copyright infringers is important to modern telcos.

The Premier League is eager to prevent illegal streaming to help protect the value of broadcast rights for media companies such as Sky and BT.

Steven King, the kingpin who masterminded the crime, received a prison sentence of seven years and four months. Paul Rolston was sentenced to six years and four months, whilst Daniel Malone received a sentence of three years and three months. The Premier League said these were “some of the longest sentences ever issued for piracy-related crimes”.

Kieron Sharp, Director General of UK copyright protection body FACT, also commented on the seriousness of copyright infringement.

…do not think that this is a grey area – it is not, it is breaking the law. Do not think it is a victimless crime – it is not…

Meanwhile, Europol claims that European police forces have scored their ‘biggest hit’ against pirates that illegally stream TV over the internet. The video in this tweet shows police forces from different countries with technology, sports cars and watches that they confiscated in a coordinated series of raids.

Spanish police led the operation against the European-wide gang, which is believed to have run 11 different websites that offered streaming video of football matches, US cable networks, movies, pornography and other content. The police operation was instigated following a complaint by the UK Premier League.

The police operation succeeded in disconnecting 66 servers in total. These pirates had used servers spread across Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Latvia, Cyprus and the UK in order to supply services in 30 different countries. The gang was believed to have made around EUR8mn (USD9mn) in total by charging the customers for their pirated services between EUR40 (USD45) and EUR460 (USD521) per month.

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Chief Executive of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.