Premier League pirate faces jail term
November 3, 2022
By Colin Mann
A UK man who ran an operation offering illegal access to Premier League football has received a suspended eight-month prison sentence.
Peter Dilworth, from Wirral, Merseyside, in the northwest of England, who operated a service offering illegal access to sports and entertainment content appeared in Liverpool Crown Court, having pleaded guilty to the charges brought against him by the Crown Prosecution Service.
UK intellectual property protection organisation FACT worked with Merseyside Police to identify Dilworth as the operator of the service called Marvel Stream UK, and in March 2022, Merseyside Police arrested and interviewed him and searched his premises.
FACT initially commenced its investigation into the individual in January 2021 after receiving intelligence from the Premier League which indicated that Marvel Stream UK provided access to Premier League matches and Sky Sports and BT Sport broadcasts.
“This is another step forward in the right direction in tackling the issue of illegal streaming, and we thank Merseyside Police for their work on this,” commented FACT Chief Executive Kieron Sharp. “Their support and assistance in procuring evidence for this prosecution was vital for the outcome of this case.
“As clearly shown by this result, enabling illegal access to streaming content is a crime with serious consequences, in this case, a criminal conviction plus a sentence of eight months. It is also extremely risky and dangerous, exposing users to malware, viruses, identity theft, inappropriate content, and financial losses,” he warned.
“We welcome this sentence, which shows the value of working closely with our partners in law enforcement,” added Merseyside Police Detective Constable Gareth Jones. “Dilworth made a considerable amount of money from his dishonesty, and we are glad that this joint investigation has resulted in such a positive outcome.”
“Illegal streaming is far from a victimless crime, and as well as the impact it has on the businesses and content creators, essentially means that legitimate subscribers pay for those who illegally access such services. We will use all available powers and continue to work with FACT to identify and put anyone else who sees intellectual property theft as a criminal opportunity before the courts,” he confirmed.
“We would like to thank Merseyside Police for all their work and support on this case,” stated Kevin Plumb, General Counsel for the Premier League. “The successful prosecution would not have been possible without them acting on our intelligence and ultimately arresting the operator.”
“The vast majority of our fans watch Premier League action via authorised sources but those who don’t must be aware this is not only an illegal activity that can lead to custodial sentences but also one that leaves them at risk of becoming victims of hacking, viruses, and fraud. We will continue to work closely with law enforcement to tackle piracy of our content and to educate fans on the dangers of watching Premier League matches via unauthorised streams.”
FACT work with sports rights holders, broadcast partners, and others across the broadcast industry to investigate and prosecute suppliers of illegal streaming services and other piracy crimes, as well as those accessing illegal content.
Dilworth’s sentencing follows the recent case of Michael Hornung, formerly of Manchester who received a four year and six months prison sentence and a Confiscation Order of £258,000 for selling and advertising unauthorised decoders that were enabled to access unauthorised channels from Virgin’s cable subscription service, including Sky Sports and BT Sport.