Five Members Of Illegal Streaming Gang Jailed For Over 30 Years After Illegally Offering Cheap Subscriptions For Premiere League Games

Five Members Of Illegal Streaming Gang Jailed For Over 30 Years After Illegally Offering Cheap Subscriptions For Premiere League Games

By David Young-

Five members of an illegal streaming gang have been jailed for a total of more than 30 years for offering cheap subscriptions for Premier League games to tens of thousands of customers.

The illegal operation made more than £7m from at least 50,000 customers and resellers. Mark Gould, described by the judge as the driving force, was sentenced to 11 years at Chesterfield crown court on Tuesday after being found guilty of conspiracy to defraud, money laundering and contempt of court.

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Steven Gordon was jailed for five years and nine months for two counts of conspiracy to defraud. Peter Jolley was sentenced to five years and two months for two counts of conspiracy to defraud and one count of money laundering after concealing £500,000 in his parents’ bank accounts. The Premier League said Christopher Felvus had pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to defraud and was jailed for three years and 11 months.

William Brown, who pleaded not guilty, claimed to have been an undercover informant acting in the interest of law enforcement. But the Premier League said the 33-year-old hacked legitimate customers’ accounts to access and copy streams for them to take the blame if identified by authorities. He was jailed for four years and nine months, the Premier League said.

“The sentences handed down, which are the longest sentences ever issued for piracy-related crimes, vindicate the efforts made to bring these individuals to justice and reflect the severity and extent of the crimes,” said the Premier League’s lawyer Kevin Plumb.

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The streaming organisations – Flawless, Shared VPS and Optimal – also offered global TV channels and on-demand films and shows in addition to live Premier League matches, according to the Premier League, which makes billions of pounds each year from broadcast rights.

Felvus was also convicted of multiple unrelated offences including possessing indecent child imagery. He is currently the subject of another ongoing separate investigation, after being arrested by the Met as he attempted to leave the country.

“This prosecution is another concrete example of the clear links between piracy and wider criminality, a warning we repeatedly make,” said Plumb.

The rare private prosecution comes after three men were prosecuted in 2019 for providing illegal streaming access to more than 1,000 pubs, clubs and homes in England and Wales. They were sentenced for a total of 17 years.

“The Premier League’s substantial financial contribution to the entire football pyramid is made possible through the ability to sell our broadcast rights. We are pleased that through rulings such as this, the courts continue to show that they recognise the importance of safeguarding the Premier League’s rights,” said Plumb.


Intellectual Property and Copyright Infringement

Streaming premier football matches without proper authorization violates intellectual property and copyright laws. Broadcasting rights for sporting events are typically sold to specific entities, which invest significant sums of money to secure exclusive rights. Unauthorized streaming and cheap subscription services circumvent these rights, resulting in significant financial losses for legitimate rights holders.

Financial Implications

The illegal streaming and cheap subscription models divert potential revenue streams from sports organizations, clubs, and players. By bypassing official broadcasting channels, these unauthorized platforms deprive stakeholders of substantial income, which negatively impacts the ability to invest in player development, infrastructure, grassroots programs, and the overall growth of the sport.

Impact on Broadcasters

Legitimate broadcasters acquire broadcasting rights at a significant cost. They invest in high-quality production, commentating, analysis, and infrastructure to enhance the viewers’ experience. Illegal streaming undermines their investment and competitiveness, creating an unfair playing field. As a result, broadcasters may face declining viewership, loss of advertising revenue, and reduced incentives to continue supporting and promoting football events.

Player Welfare and Sustainability

The financial implications of illegal streaming and cheap subscriptions trickle down to players and their welfare. Revenue generated from broadcasting rights contributes to player salaries, transfers, training facilities, medical support, and overall development programs. The erosion of these revenue streams jeopardizes the sustainability of the sport and can result in detrimental effects on player well-being.

Sporting Integrity and Fairness

The enforcement of laws against illegal streaming sends a strong message regarding the importance of upholding sporting integrity and fairness. By penalizing those who engage in unauthorized streaming, the justice system demonstrates its commitment to maintaining a level playing field for all stakeholders. This message fosters a culture of fair competition and ensures that rewards are earned through legitimate means.

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