Pirates punished: British trio jailed for 17 YEARS for illegally streaming Premier League games
Coventry-based Steven King, Paul Rolston and Daniel Malone were slapped with a total of 17 years in jail for their involvement in the racket, which saw them sell illegally-gained streams of Premier League football matches to more than 1,000 pubs, clubs and residential properties in the UK.
The trio's illegal scheme netted them in excess of $6.6 million in ill-gotten profits, with the judge labeling the operation "a dishonest, dodgy business."
Pubs and clubs pay an average of around $26,000 per year for licenses to show live Premier League games in their establishments.
The Premier League's television rights deal runs from 2016 to 2019, and is worth a staggering $6.6 billion, with a new three-year deal in 2019 set to net the league in excess of $5.9 billion.
With the rise in fees paid by broadcasters and the revenue generated by the league, authorities have clamped down on the issue of piracy and illegal streaming of Premier League games.
And, after a four-week trial at Warwick Crown Court, King was sentenced to seven years and four months, Rolston was handed six years and four months, and Malone received three years and three months.
The sentences amount to some of the longest sentences handed down for piracy crimes in the UK.
The fact that the trio had put measures in place in an attempt to prevent broadcasters from investigating their actions was a major factor in the remarkably long sentences handed down by the judge.
"Do not think this is a grey area - it is not. It is breaking the law," said Kieran Sharp, director general of anti-piracy organization FACT.
"Do not think this is a victimless crime - it is not, it puts thousands of ordinary people's jobs at risk. Do not think that the internet provides anonymity - it does not."