A Swedish court has jailed a father and son and fined their Arabic-language internet TV company a record 210 million Swedish crowns ($24 million) for broadcasting English Premier League matches without permission.
Sweden-based Advanced TV Network (ATN) were ordered to pay 94.8 million crowns in damages to Qatar’s beIN Sports and 14.6 million crowns to Albanian TV group DigitAlb.
ATN owner Hamid al-Hamid, 58, to two and a half years in prison, while his son Ahmed and another business associate were sentenced to one year each. All three were found guilty of charges including misuse of decoding information and copyright violations. Their lawyers said they planned to appeal the verdict.
"It is, according to the court's opinion, shown beyond reasonable doubt that ATN at no time ... had the rights to broadcast the beIN channels in question," the court said, Reuters reported.
ATN, which declared bankruptcy in September 2016, argued it had distributed the content with the necessary agreements from the content owners.
Nordic Content Protection, an anti-piracy industry group for Nordic broadcasters which originally filed the case against ATN in 2016, welcomed what it said was a landmark ruling.
"The prison sentences and record fines handed down in this case send a clear message to broadcast pirates," the group's chief executive Anders Braf said in a statement.
However, one of the prosecutors in the case, Anneli Tirud Wallin, told Reuters it was her understanding that damages could be extracted from assets belonging ATN or its owners.