The English Premier League has hailed a “significant win” in its ongoing battle against piracy and Intellectual Property (IP) theft after the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) secured a successful conviction against a website that had been illegally streaming live games.
The individual responsible received a two-year custodial sentence for fraud, the first time a prison term has been handed down to someone illegally exploiting the Premier League’s rights. The League’s legal department worked with FACT from January 2012 to secure the prosecution against the site, which had 10,000 plus subscribers each paying £29.99 a month to access an illegal stream of pay-television broadcaster Sky Sports’ coverage of Premier League matches.
FACT linked up with expert financial investigators from the East Midlands Police, who found evidence that the website had illegally earned about £500,000 from early 2010 to August 2012. The person who ran the website was depositing the cash from subscriptions in an off-shore bank account in Belize. A Premier League statement read: “It is only through the sale of broadcasting rights and commercial licences that we can generate the central revenue that sustains the virtuous circle of investment that has allowed the Premier League to develop into one of the best football competitions in the world. This investment allows funding for projects like the Elite Player Performance Plan, Football League solidarity payments and the recently launched Premier League and FA Facilities Fund.”
The Premier League has been ramping up its fight against copyright breaches as its lucrative new set of UK rights deals came into effect this season. The League secured a huge 70% rise in the value of its domestic broadcast rights in June 2012, with BSkyB and rival pay-television broadcaster BT Sport splashing out a combined £3.018 billion on an agreement spanning the three seasons from 2013-14 to 2015-16.