A man from Halifax in the North of England has been jailed after he made illegal copies of high-profile films available online before their cinema release date, including Fast & Furious 7.
Malik Luqman Farooq was sentenced to 27 months in prison at Southwark Crown Court after pleading guilty to one offence of conspiracy to defraud committed between September 2014 and April 2015.
An investigation by the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) revealed Farooq had been making high-profile films available online for illegal download, including a copy of Fast & Furious 7 from the Fast & Furious franchise, which was stolen from a post-production film company.
PIPCU were first alerted to the crime when a representative of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) identified an individual, using the alias ‘Dark999’, offering pirate movies for sale. This included Fast & Furious 7 which wasn’t yet in cinemas. Dark 999 claimed to be obtaining the films from another user called Code.X.
“Fast & Furious 7 was the second highest grossing movie in 2015,” noted Detective Constable Abdun Noor, of PIPCU. “Industry estimates show the potential loss suffered, had the film been released before the official cinema date, would have been substantial. Our investigation ensured Farooq was arrested before he was able to release this particular film to the public.”
“Digital piracy causes significant damage to the companies involved in producing films, not only in terms of profits, but also in terms of putting jobs at risk. Anyone who is thinking of committing digital piracy, like Farooq, should see this case as a warning. Piracy is not a victimless crime and we will ensure these criminals are brought to justice.”
The MPAA estimates the potential loss related to Fast & Furious 7 alone would have been $287,663,623.49 (€251,346,091.02) if it had been released before the official cinema date. PIPCU’s investigation and the arrest of Farooq meant that he was unable to release it to the public before the official cinema date.
Officers from PIPCU discovered copies of 15 other films, yet to be released in the cinema, in a search of Farooq’s home.