Two Leeds men have today been convicted of copyright infringement.
Brothers Faraz Saddiq, 27 of Woodsley Road, Leeds, and Ayaz Saddiq, 26 of Woodsley Road, Leeds, were arrested following an extensive investigation by West Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit (ECU) and the Federation against Copyright Theft (FACT).
Both were today sentenced to nine-months, suspended for two years, as well as receiving 150 hours unpaid work. The investigation concentrated on two specific websites – ‘www.filmzzz.com’ and ‘www.legalmovies.tv’. Both websites were streaming films which were subject to copyright and no permission had been given by any of the relevant copyright holders to either upload or distribute the material via the websites.
The registered e-mail addresses for the websites were sent ‘cease and desist’ notifications which listed examples of the films that had been shown via the websites infringing copyright material. They were warned that they were committing a criminal offence under section 107(2A) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and were asked to remove all such material. The films listed in the e-mails were removed but other similar content remained on the websites.
In March, 2009, a search warrant was executed at Woodsley Road in Leeds by Officers from West Yorkshire Police and FACT. A search of the property revealed a quantity of computer equipment including laptops, computer towers and other storage media, which were then seized. They were found to contain material which showed they had been used to set up and manage the running of the two websites. Documentation was also seized and the two men Faraz Saddiq and Ayaz Saddiq, were arrested. Following further enquiries the men were charged in August, 2010, with copyright and Proceeds of Crime Acts offences.
David Charity – a Financial Investigation Manager from West Yorkshire Police’s ECU – said: “The Saddiq brothers created the two websites which re-directed users to the location of where they could find illegal copies of movies and television programmes. These included copies of films which at the time were not yet released in the UK. Before they were arrested their websites attracted 60,000 unique users and 125,000 hits everyday. We worked with FACT who identified these websites and brought them to our attention.
I hope it acts as a warning to others who may think they can get away with creating and running websites of this kind.”
Kieron Sharp, FACT Director General, added: “This is another success for FACT, its members and the 2 million people who work in the UK’s creative industries. I would like to extend my immense thanks to officers in West Yorkshire Police who saw this case through.
Despite numerous warnings the Saddiq brothers continued to own and maintain the websites and clearly knew that what they were doing was illegal.
2012 has proved to be a landmark year for FACT, with recent cases leaving no doubt that operating a website that provides access to pirated films and TV programmes will lead to criminal prosecution.”