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Sky lands Belgian pirates in prison and collects €2m in damages

Sky in Belgium has managed to get criminals who stole the signal of Sky Deutschland and sold it to almost 6,000 homes, an 18 month prison sentence and

By PETER WHITE

Published: 28 October, 2010

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Sky in Belgium has managed to get criminals who stole the signal of Sky Deutschland and sold it to almost 6,000 homes, an 18 month prison sentence and an award of €2 million in damages. The pirates will appeal the case which was delivered by a Belgian court.

The announcement came from AEPOC which is a group of Pay TV operators billed as the European Association for the Protection of Encrypted Works and Services. This is the first time in all of Europe that stealing a Pay-TV signal has been viewed this seriously.

AEPOC reckons this is a breakthrough in Pay-TV piracy. The pirates sold illegal viewing cards in Germany and Austria from 2006 to 2008. The court of First Instance in Tongeren, Belgium ruled that the two accused will be sent to prison for 18 and 8 months respectively. Two more individuals received suspended sentences while one person was found not guilty. In parallel Sky Deutschland is to receive a groundbreaking sum of more than €2 million in damages, plus interest and other compensation payments. €1.85 million will be paid by the central pirate in this case, who received the 18 months prison sentence. A further €180,000 will be paid by the other pirate.

The Belgium court found the convicts guilty of having dealt with “blank cards” which had the sole purpose of providing illegal viewing on Sky Deutschland, operating under the Premiere brand at the time. The case dealt with more than 5,700 cards that were sold at a unit price of 75 Euros – some €427,500. These worked with software downloadable from the internet and were operational for several years.

AEPOC President Philippe-Olivier Rousseau commented: “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.”

The case also involved huge money laundering operations conducted by the pirates between Belgium and the city of Aachen in Germany.

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