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Record fines for illegal Sky use

July 19, 2018

By Colin Mann

Following a successful prosecution by UK intellectual property protection organisation FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft), the licensees and company directors responsible for the running of three pubs in the Midlands have been convicted of 64 offences and ordered to pay a combined total of £327,405 (€367,530) in fines and costs for showing Sky Sports illegally in their premises.

In a combined case brought before Birmingham Magistrates Court on  March 21st 2018, Jonathan Hunt was convicted of 19 offences, Robert Stevens was convicted of 19 offences, Mark Jones was convicted of 19 offences in his absence and Carol Keenan pleaded guilty to seven offences 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 criminal convictions, at a sentencing hearing on July 18th 2018, the defendants were ordered to pay a total of £327,405 in fines and costs and Jonathan Hunt’s Personal Alcohol Licence was revoked.

“The licensees and company involved in this case have consistently refused to engage with us and ignored numerous warnings and offers of advice sent to them,” noted Stephen Gerrard, Prosecuting Manager, FACT. “This clearly demonstrates their conscious decision to offend, over a significant period of time. We were left with no option but to prosecute these individuals and we will continue to prosecute publicans who are fraudulently showing Sky programmes in their premises.”

“We take illegal use of our programming very seriously and we remain committed to protecting our legitimate Sky customers who are unfairly losing business due to this illegal activity,” stated George Lawson, Head of Commercial Piracy at Sky. “Those licensees who choose to televise content illegally should be aware that they are at high risk of being caught and face substantial penalties and a criminal conviction. The only legal way to Sky Sports programming in licensed premises in the UK is via a Commercial viewing agreement from Sky.”

“These convictions were carried out by FACT on behalf of its members and forms a key part of Sky’s commitment to protecting pubs to invest in legitimate Sky Sports subscriptions. Sky is committed to visiting every licensed premises 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. This case follows the recent ruling of the imprisonment of John Haggerty who was recently jailed for five years and three months after being convicted of selling illicit streaming devices to pubs and residential customers.”

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