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UK pubs fined for illegal Sky use

Following successful prosecutions by intellectual property protection body FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft) the Designated Premises Supervisors of the Miners Arms and The Old Crooked Clock, in the Northern UK city of Leeds have each been convicted and ordered to pay a combined total of more than £8,500 (€9,864) in fines and costs for showing Sky Sports illegally in their premises.

On November 11th at Leeds Magistrates Court, Peter Pinder of the Miners Arms was found guilty after trial to two offences of dishonest reception of a television transmission (a Sky televised football match) at the above licensed premises with the intent to avoid payment of the applicable charge. This is contrary to Section 297 (1) of the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988. In addition to receiving a criminal conviction, Pinder was ordered to pay a total of £7,875 in fines and costs.

In a separate case, Sarah Harwood of The Old Crooked Clock was also prosecuted by FACT for screening Sky Sports without the correct commercial viewing agreement from Sky Business in place. To date, there have been 22 convictions brought by FACT this season alone, bringing total fines and costs paid by licensees across the UK to over £90,000.

The Leeds licensees both told the court that they had purchased systems to show Sky Sports from a company they named as MV Rentals. They claimed that MV Rentals had told them that the system they were supplying was legal to use. However, Sky Sports is only available to UK pubs via a commercial viewing agreement from Sky.

“These cases should send a clear warning to pub owners and licensees who show Sky broadcasts without a commercial subscription,” declared Stephen Gerrard, Prosecuting Manager. “If convicted, fines for this offence are unlimited and you may have to pay substantial legal costs, as well as putting yourself at risk of having your licence suspended or revoked.”

“Illegal broadcasts of sporting events, films and TV programmes are damaging to the creative industries and puts businesses and people’s livelihoods at risk and so we work closely with our members to ensure their content is protected and that legitimate customers are not left short changed.”

These convictions were carried out by FACT on behalf of its members and forms a key part of Sky’s commitment to protecting pubs who invest in legitimate Sky Sports subscriptions. Sky is committed to visiting every licensed premise reported by other publicans and/or organisations for illegally showing Sky and will visit hundreds of pubs each week in towns and cities across the UK this season.

George Lawson, Head of Commercial Piracy at Sky Business, said: “These sentences demonstrate how seriously the courts take piracy and should act as a wake-up call to those licensees who continue to listen to suppliers who tell them they can show Sky Sports via an alternative system and avoid prosecution – Sky Sports is only available to pubs and clubs in the UK via a commercial viewing agreement from Sky; no other method of showing Sky Sports in licensed premises is legal.”

“Sky’s on-going support for FACT in prosecuting licensees who break the law, as well as investigating suppliers is part of our unwavering commitment to protect our legitimate customers’ investment from those that threaten their businesses.”

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