Pay-TV pirates imprisoned

Editor ©RapidTVNews | 25-10-2010

In what it calls a breakthrough judgement against Pay-TV piracy, AEPOC, the European Association for the Protection of Encrypted Works and Services, has led a legal action resulting in pay-TV pirate being sentenced to 18 months in jail and payment of more than 2 million Euros in damages.

In the suit, Belgium prosecutors, joined by AEPOC member Sky Deutschland, won a judgement against the pirates who sold illegal viewing cards to Germany and Austria during the years 2006 to 2008. It is the first ruling of this dimension for such an act.

The First Instance Court of Tongeren, Belgium ruled that two accused parties will be sent to prison for 18 and 8 months respectively. Two more individuals received suspended sentences while one person was found not guilty.

As part of the verdict, Sky Deutschland will receive a more than 2 million Euros in damages, plus interest and other compensation payments. 1,850,000 Euros is to be paid by the central pirate in this case, who received the 18 months prison sentence, and by a legal entity. A further 180,000 Euros are to be paid by the pirate sentenced to 8 months in prison.

The pirates dealt 5,700 “blank cards” during the two years with the purpose of proving illegal access to Sky Deutschland pay-TV services when it was offered under the Premiere brand. Access was gained using the cards in conjunction with software downloaded from the Internet available on the internet. The court case did not reveal precisely just how long the breach went undetected.

Commented AEPOC President Philippe-Olivier Rousseau: “It becomes crystal clear how detrimental piracy is to the Pay-TV industry looking at the sheer sum of damages to be paid within this single case alone – demonstrating the very criminal nature of Pay-TV piracy.

However, dealing a slight criticism of other jurisdictions, Rousseau added: “Belgium law and enforcement prove effective for such complex law suits of cross-border Pay-TV piracy and industry crimes. In many other EU countries though we do not see such a satisfying functioning of the Conditional Access Directive and its implementation into national law. Accordingly, AEPOC works inside the European Union for the harmonisation of laws and the introduction of minimum thresholds for sanctions to underline that Pay-TV piracy is a severe crime.”