Jail and €2m fine for Premiere pirates

AEPOC, the European Association for the Protection of Encrypted Works and Services, has reported a breakthrough judgement against Pay-TV piracy. Belgian prosecutors, joined by AEPOC member Sky Deutschland, have won a lawsuit against pirates, who sold illegal viewing cards to Germany and Austria from 2006 to 2008.

The First Instance Court of Tongeren, Belgium ruled the two accused will be sent to prison for 18 and 8 months respectively. Two more individuals received suspended sentences while one person was found not guilty. In parallel Sky Deutschland is to receive a record sum of more than €2 million in damages, plus interest and other compensation payments.

The Belgium court found the convicts guilty of having dealt with so-called “blank cards” during the years 2006 to 2008, that had the sole purpose to provide illegitimate viewing access to the Pay-TV offering of Sky Deutschland, operating under the Premiere brand at the time. The case dealt with more than 5,700 cards that were sold at a unit price of €75. In combination with software available on the Internet and consecutive updates the cards gave illegitimate access to Premiere, possibly for several years. The court rejected the argument of the pirates and their lawyers claiming their blank cards were not a pirate device as such, and therefore not illegal.

AEPOC President Philippe-Olivier Rousseau commented: “It becomes crystal clear how detrimental piracy is to the Pay-TV industry looking at the sheer sum of damages to be paid within this single case demonstrating the very criminal nature of Pay-TV piracy.”

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