Seller of illegal TV streaming services sentenced

Following a guilty plea of copyright and fraud charges earlier this year for selling subscriptions providing illegally obtained content, a man has been sentenced at Truro Crown Court. 

Steven Underwood (also known as Steven Isaac) has been sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, after he previously pleaded guilty in November 2019 to two charges under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 and the Fraud Act 2006. The court heard that he had sold around £400,000 worth of illegal streaming subscriptions that enabled users to view pay-TV without the permission of, and without making any appropriate payment to, the relevant broadcasters and content owners.

FACT initially detected Underwood’s activity which led to an address in Cornwall. On Wednesday 16 January 2019, officers from the Police Regional Organised Crime Unit, FACT and Cornwall Council Trading Standards executed an Entry Warrant at Underwood’s home and seized a number of devices including an iPhone, tower computer and laptop computer. These were forensically examined and compelling evidence of Underwood’s unlawful activity was recovered.

Underwood was handed down a sentence of 12 months for offences under the Fraud Act 2006 and a further 12 months for offences under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. These were both suspended for two years after mitigation on medical grounds.

Sentencing him, His Honour Judge Lindford noted, “You were engaged in highly sophisticated activity to illegally allow individuals access to material for which they would have to pay for live sports and events…this was most serious offending indeed”, and commended the investigation and the commitment of those involved in bringing this to conviction.

FACT CEO, Kieron Sharp, said:
“This result reinforces the message that selling access to content that is not licensed or owned by you is a serious crime. No matter what the device, selling illegitimate services is not a grey area, it is breaking the law.

At FACT we encourage consumers to use legitimate services that are safe to use, especially for families over the festive season.”

Paul Masters, Cornwall Council’s strategic director for neighbourhoods, added: “Stealing intellectual property or copyright is as serious as other more tangible thefts. Our Trading Standards officers will always seek to protect Cornwall’s consumers from being duped by copyright fraud.

“Only buy streaming services from a trusted source, and if in doubt contact our Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 03454 040506 for reassurance.”

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