THREE Coventry men have been jailed for running a huge £5million pirate Premier League football streaming operation supplying to more than 1,000 pubs, clubs and homes.
They have been jailed for a total of 17 years for conspiracy to defraud; some of the longest sentences ever issued for piracy-related crimes.
Steven King, who masterminded the fraud, has been 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.
The jury at Warwick Crown Court delivered their guilty verdict after a four-week trial.
Trading under the names Dreambox (unincorporated), Dreambox TV Limited, and Digital Switchover Limited, via websites at dreamboxtv.co.uk and yourfootie.com, the three men had provided illegal access to Premier League football to locations across England and Wales.
The court heard the fraudulent companies earned in excess of £5million through their illegal activity.
The operation used a range of technologies to continue its fraud over the course of a decade.
Most recently, the defendants engaged various third parties located in the UK and across Europe to create illegal broadcast streams, which they then sold on to their customers.
Their suppliers included Terry O’Reilly, who was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment in 2016 for a conspiracy to defraud the Premier League and its pay-TV providers.
Over the course of the conspiracy, premium content from more than 20 broadcasters around the world was fraudulently obtained and supplied by the defendants.
All of these methods enabled users to view pay-TV without the permission of, and without making any appropriate payment to, the relevant broadcasters and content owners.
In handing down the sentences, the Judge described the operation as a ‘dishonest, dodgy business.’
He said the defendants’ serious attempts to frustrate broadcasters’ efforts in investigating the fraud, which included the use of logo-blocking and watermarking techniques, was an aggravating feature in the length of sentences.
The Judge also condemned ‘profoundly dishonest’ publicans for profiting from the service themselves without paying the broadcasters.
Premier League director of Legal Services Kevin Plumb said: “Today’s decision has provided further evidence that the law will catch up with companies and individuals that defraud rights owners and breach copyright.
“The custodial sentences issued here reflect the seriousness and the scale of the crimes.
“Using these services is unlawful and fans should be aware that when they do so they enter into agreements with illegal businesses.
“They also risk being victims of fraud or identity theft by handing over personal data and financial details.
“The Premier League’s investment into cutting edge technology, combined with wide-ranging anti-piracy actions such as the one here today and the continuing landmark blocking injunction, means that it has never been more difficult for football piracy to operate in the UK.”