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07th Apr 2018

Two sellers of illegal streaming devices have been jailed for four and a half years

Rory Cashin

The suppliers of the Kodi-like devices were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud.

It has been a few months since we reported that the Premier League is taking steps to crack down on the illegal streaming of games in both the UK and Ireland.

A High Court action in the United Kingdom has ruled that internet service providers must block all servers that are broadcasting games illegally.

While the action does not extend to Ireland at this point, the report suggests that the Premier League is speaking to Irish service providers about putting similar measures in place over here.

This week it appears that they have followed through, as FACT are reporting that two suppliers of Kodi-type illegal devices have today each been jailed for four and half years in Newcastle Crown Court after being found guilty of conspiracy to defraud.

The devices enabled their customers to view Premier League football via unauthorised access to Sky Sports, BT Sport and illegal foreign channels. In doing so they defrauded the Premier League and Sky and BT.

They also “ripped off” customers who were regularly left with devices that had their broadcast signal interrupted or didn’t work properly. Their criminal activity saw them fraudulently earn at least £1.5m ($1.72m) through the sale of the illegal devices and other equipment. This will now be subject to confiscation proceedings.

The Premier League is currently engaged in a comprehensive copyright protection programme that has included obtaining a High Court Order that compels the UK’s Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block illegal streams of its content, but this is not restricted to the UK, as they have already resulted in action being taken in Spain and south east Asia.

Premier League Director of Legal Services, Kevin Plumb, said: “This is a hugely significant judgement as it provides further evidence that selling these devices is illegal and can result in a prison sentence. We have seen several reports from people who have purchased illicit streaming devices only to be left with no service when the seller is forced to cease trading because the law has caught up with them, or their broadcast signal has been interrupted by our enforcement measures.

“We hope this verdict gets the message out that selling or using these devices is simply not worth the risk. The many things fans enjoy about the Premier League – the ability that clubs have to develop and acquire talented players, to build and improve stadiums, and to support communities and schools – is all predicated on being able to market, sell and protect rights. We are pleased the Courts have recognised that in this case.”

CEO of FACT, Kieron Sharp, said: “This result is an excellent example of how serious an issue illegal streaming is. TV boxes and sticks that allow consumers to illegally stream sports, such as Premier League matches, not only have a huge effect on the content owners and broadcasters but the thousands of people working tirelessly behind the scenes to put the sport on our screens.

“This is no longer a grey area – selling devices like this or using one at home to watch content you normally would pay for is breaking the law. This sentencing should send out a very clear and strong message to anyone involved in the sale of these devices that it is very much illegal and that they risk spending time behind bars.”

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