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Three people were sentenced to prison for illegally streaming Premier League matches.

The UK authorities are not kidding about illegal streaming. The Premier League, which represents the English Premier League, has succeeded in getting owners of illegal streaming sites that have been retransmitting league matches condemned with extreme severity. The three defendants received cumulative sentences of 17 years in prison, at the instigation of FACT (The Federation Againt Copyright Theft), which fights against piracy.

A high-profit fraud

Steven King was sentenced to seven years and four months in prison for the fraud. Paul Rolston got six years and four months, while Daniel Malone got three years and three months. Seventeen years in prison between the three of them. The trial will have lasted four weeks.

The three men had offered illegal access to league matches to more than 1,000, pubs, clubs and individuals in England and Wales. The content was visible on dreamboxtv.co.uk and yourfootie.com. The trio had managed to set up a system of logo blocking and watermarks so as not to attract attention. The two sites generated revenues of nearly 6 million euros, and as such, advertisers who placed advertising on the sites were also condemned.

At stake in billion(s) of pounds and euros

Kevin Plumb, the Premier League’s Director of Legal Services, says that “this decision has provided further evidence that the law will catch up with companies and individuals who defraud rights owners and violate copyright. The custodial sentences pronounced here reflect the seriousness and magnitude of the crimes“.

It must be said that across the Channel, football is a religion that brings in a lot of money for football clubs. For the season 2017-2018alone, the 20 Premier League clubs were able to share EUR 2.7 billion from theTV rights paid by British and world broadcasters. In France, Ligue 1 Conforama brings in only €725 million to clubs per season (an amount that will exceed €1 billion from 2020, thanks to the Spanish group Mediapro).

Illegal streaming, an activity that is becoming more professional

Like other forms of piracy, illegal streaming has become more professional in recent years. “We are dealing with white-collar crime that manages to set up lucrativebusinesses,” Europol explained to Le Parisien a few months ago. The activity is promising and obviously tries to attract more and more people or groups. And the pirates always keep one step ahead of the authorities. When one site closes, another opens, and so on.

In France, 3.5 million Internet users are said to watch dating on illegal sites, according to a study commissioned by beIN SPORTS. Beyond legal sanctions, the legal director of beIN’s French subsidiary, Caroline Guenneteau, is convinced that there are other solutions: “Blocking and de-referencing sites is really the most effective tool. The French legal arsenalmust be adapted”, she advocates. One solution among others. But isn’t it a never-ending race?

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