A criminal found guilty of supplying illegal streaming devices (ISDs) providing unauthorised access to Premier League content has been ordered to pay back almost £1million to the public purse.
Steven King masterminded the pirate streaming operation Dreambox and was jailed for seven years and four months in March 2019.
At Warwick Crown Court yesterday (6 June), he has been ordered to forfeit the proceeds of his criminal activities and pay back £963,000 within three months, or face having his prison sentence extended by an additional six years and eight months.
The judge ruled King must also surrender his passport within 28 days and cannot travel abroad until the sum has been paid.
King was one of three operators behind Dreambox, who were jailed for a total of 17 years for conspiracy to defraud; some of the longest sentences ever issued for piracy-related crimes.
Trading under the names Dreambox (unincorporated), Dreambox TV Limited, and Digital Switchover Limited, via websites at dreamboxtv.co.uk and yourfootie.com, the three men had provided illegal access to Premier League football to more than 1,000 pubs, clubs and homes throughout England and Wales.
The original case was privately prosecuted by the Premier League following a joint investigation with FACT into the service.
Premier League General Counsel Kevin Plumb said: “This result clearly shows that supplying illegal streams is a criminal offence leading to prison sentences and significant financial consequences. We are pleased 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, to help them continue the fantastic work they do in helping bring people like this to justice.
“The vast majority of our fans watch Premier League action via authorised sources but for those who don’t, they must be aware this is not only an illegal activity that can lead to custodial sentences but they also risk becoming victims of hacking and fraud. We will continue to work with law enforcement to tackle piracy of our content and to educate fans on the dangers of watching Premier League matches via unauthorised streams.”
FACT CEO Kieron Sharp said: “This is a warning to anyone selling subscriptions or devices that allow access to content without remunerating the legitimate provider – you risk time in jail and the loss of your properties, cars and other proceeds of crime. FACT will continue to work with the Premier League and other rights holders to crack down on illegal streaming and to hold those behind it accountable for their actions.”
The Premier League continues to fight against piracy of its content, working with broadcast partners and authorities to bring down illegal streams and investigate and prosecute suppliers of illegal streaming services. The League’s global anti-piracy actions target both the supply and access of illegal content.
Yesterday’s court order is the latest successful outcome for the Premier League in the UK criminal courts and follows Paul Faulkner’s 16-month jail sentence for admitting multiple copyright and fraud offences. This included a separate four-month prison sentence for watching the illegal content that he was supplying to others, with the judge recognising that Faulkner’s own use of the unauthorised service was a distinct crime in itself.