For ten years beginning in May 2008, three individuals ran a piracy operation via the Web sites dreamboxtv.co.uk and yourfootie.com through two companies, Digital Switch and Dream TV Ltd. The sites provided Premier League and other sporting event programming legally distributed via Sky and others, to more than 1,000 pubs across England and Wales via illicit streaming devices (ISDs) and streaming.
It was estimated at the time that loss to legitimate distributors may have exceeded £10 million, and revenue to the piracy operation about £6 million.
It was clearly a pre-meditated operation, as the signals were received from non-UK sources, stored in offshore servers and then redistributed online or through the ISDs at prices far below what pubs normally paid.
In March 2019, the three were jailed on fraud convictions. Operation leader Steven King received seven years and four months’ prison sentence. His accomplices received sentences of six years four months, and three years three months.
The scene revisited
On June 6, 2022, the Warwick Crown Court ordered King to forfeit £963,000 within three months or face an extension of his prison sentence by an additional six years and eight months, which would bring the total sentence to 14 years if he did not pay. He also was ordered to surrender his passport, keeping him from traveling abroad until the sum is paid.
The case and its aftermath have been supported by FACT, the UK-based anti-piracy organization.
Read the FACT press release (June 6, 2022)
Read about the 2019 incarceration of the three individuals (CoventryLive, March 21, 2019)
Why it matters
At the 2019 sentencing, the Judge said ““Publicans who were happy to put £4,000 of additional money through the till on a Saturday afternoon baulked at paying Sky for the service that was bringing customers in, seeking to steal a march on the pubs down the road that were not acting dishonestly,” according to a report published by CoventryLive in March 2019.
In the June 2022 FACT press release, Premier League General Counsel Kevin Plumb noted that: “This (outcome) clearly shows that supplying illegal streams is a criminal offence… (that) the courts have recognised the seriousness of piracy-related crimes and the Premier League has requested all money recovered goes back to public bodies, including law enforcement agencies.”