The developer of a software package which enabled illegal access to BT Sport, SKY, Netflix and other subscription television content has been sentenced to two and a half years’ imprisonment. It’s thought to be the first conviction of its type in the UK. The action was announced by UK-based FACT, the Federation Against Copyright Theft.
According to FACT, Mr Stephen Millington, age 42, from Winsford appeared at Chester Crown Court on November 30, 2021, after pleading guilty to multiple fraud and copyright offenses, including making and supplying software to enable illegal access to subscription content, distributing infringing film content via a dedicated server he controlled, sharing login credentials for subscription streaming services and illegally accessing content for his own use.
Mr Millington was the creator of software package ‘stephen-builds’ which facilitated access to subscription television and film content without payment to the rights’ holders. He also supplied details of the ‘Supremacy’ and ‘Supremacy Sports’ add-ons, which enabled users to access that content via a group he set up and managed on Facebook, in which thousands of members were given instructions and support with use of the add-ons. Mr Millington also created multiple YouTube videos which helped users install the software and add-ons and demonstrated the ability of his ‘build’ to enable the viewing of subscription television and film content.
In addition to these offenses, Mr Millington shared login details for Netflix, allowing others to access his accounts.
During sentencing the Judge commented “When looking at loss in these types of cases you need to consider not only the companies that create and produce the content but also the loss to those who legitimately pay to subscribe. There was sophistication in the way he created the (software) build.”
Read the full news release, by FACT
Why it matters
The software package was distributed to thousands of users, enabling them to access premium television and film content without payment, and causing potential losses to the legitimate broadcast industry of millions of pounds per year.
“Enabling illegal access to content is fraud; a crime with serious consequences, as shown in this sentencing. It is now clear that the courts will hold those choosing to break the law to account, and will deliver convictions that will have a significant and long-lasting effect on individuals involved,” said Keiron Sharp, Chief Executive of FACT.
“FACT will continue to monitor channels used to advertise, market, sell and distribute software, add-ons, devices and streams to take action against suppliers and operators,” he said.
The FACT news release also contains comments from North West Regional Organised Crime Unit, Greater Manchester Police, and FACT members BT and Virgin Media.