Internet Pirate Who Cost Film Industry £12 Million Jailed

Many people believe that everything on the Internet should be free. However, one case in which a businessman received a four-year jail term for wholesale breaches of film industry copyrights showed how very wrong that assumption is.

The man made £280,000 in advertising revenue from operating a series of websites which enabled Internet users to download pirated copies of films, in some cases before they were officially released. Film studios estimated that his activities over a five-year period had cost them in the region of £12 million.

He ignored a cease and desist notice served upon him by the Federation Against Copyright Theft and twice migrated his operations between websites in an attempt to avoid detection. He was ultimately jailed after pleading guilty to two charges of conspiracy to defraud and one of concealing criminal property. The latter count related to more than £80,000 in cash found at his home.

In challenging the length of his sentence before the Court of Appeal, his lawyers pointed to certain medical and psychological difficulties from which he suffered. Despite the large criminal profits generated, they argued that he was not interested in money and did not lead a lavish lifestyle. In rejecting his appeal, however, the Court noted that the offences were sophisticated, persistent and revealed a high level of culpability.