The City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) and UK intellectual property protection body FACT are warning sports fans to use legitimate sources to watch the return of the Premier League as football comes back to our screens.
In 2019, three individuals from the UK Midlands city of Coventry were jailed for 17 years for defrauding the Premier League by providing illegal access to Premier League football to more than 1,000 pubs, clubs, and homes throughout England and Wales. Steven King was sentenced to seven years and four months’ imprisonment. Paul Rolston received a sentence of six years and four months, and Daniel Malone a sentence of three years and three months. These were some of the longest sentences ever issued for piracy-related crimes.
“The return of the Premier League is something lots of football fans have been waiting for,” notes Detective Chief Inspector Nick Court, Head of the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit. “As matches are having to be played in empty stadiums, and pubs remain closed, we are expecting considerably more people to be watching from the comfort of their own living room – but don’t let your eagerness to tune in make you commit a crime.”
“Not only is it illegal to stream matches without paying for them, but it’s also unreliable and risky. You never know what malware is in the stream you are using and what damage it is doing to your device. Furthermore, law enforcement agencies and legitimate providers can shut illegal sites down during the match, often at a crucial point, to dissuade people from using these sites in the future. By using official providers these risks can easily be avoided. Remember – watch it live, watch it legally,” he advises.
“It’s completely understandable that when the current Premier League season restarts, demand to watch the matches will be extremely high,” adds Kieron Sharp, CEO of FACT. “However, it’s essential to remember that the only legal way of watching Premier League matches, and any other content, is through the official providers. We encourage everyone to watch only via official providers as this doesn’t only guarantee that you’re not breaking the law but also guarantees that you’re not putting yourself and your family at risk of malware and inappropriate content. FACT is continuing to monitor content sources and works with members and industry to tackle illegal activity,” he confirms.