First UK IP STB piracy conviction

Following the first legal case involving a supplier of IPTV systems which enable viewers to watch unauthorised content, a man from the East Midlands city of Nottingham has been jailed.

Terry O’Reilly was sentenced to four years in prison. A second supplier who worked with O’Reilly, Will O’Leary, pleaded guilty and received a two-year suspended prison sentence.

The Premier League brought a prosecution against O’Reilly and O’Leary after the pair were discovered to be selling devices to pubs and consumers which facilitated mass piracy, including the broadcasting of Premier League football on unauthorised foreign channels. The prosecution was supported by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) following an early investigation by the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU).

The case was heard at Nottingham Crown Court where O’Leary and O’Reilly were both convicted for Conspiracy to Defraud.

The Premier League was represented by David Groome and Ari Alabhai of QEB Hollis Whitman.

“Like other creative industries the Premier League’s model is predicated on the ability to market and sell rights and protect its intellectual property,” explained Premier League Director of Legal Services, Kevin Plumb. “It is because of this that clubs can invest in star players and managers, and world class stadiums – the very things fans enjoy about our competition.”

“This case is particularly important as it is the first involving sellers of so-called IPTV devices which enable people to watch illegal content. The Courts have provided a clear message: this is against the law and selling systems which allow people to watch unauthorised Premier League broadcasts is a form of mass piracy and is sufficiently serious to warrant a custodial sentence. There can now be no doubt for consumers that these systems are illegal.”

“As the first sentencing of IPTV boxes in England, today’s result should send a hard-hitting message to anyone involved in selling illegally modified set-top boxes,” declared FACT Director General, Kieron Sharp. “The sale and distribution of these boxes, which are loaded with infringing apps and add-ons allowing access to copyrighted content, is a criminal offence and the repercussions could result in years behind bars.”

“We would like to thank the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit for their early support in the investigation and we will continue to work with the Premier League and our other members to ensure sports broadcasts are fully protected.”

Detective Chief Inspector Pete Ratcliffe of the City of London Police’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit said the conviction showed how important working with industry and other bodies is to modern day policing. “Protecting our creative industries is vital to the UK economy and the millions of jobs that work within them and this case sends a clear message that this is crime that will be investigated and brought before the courts.”

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