A father and son-in-law who ran a website that provided downloads of films, games and books have both pleaded guilty at a court hearing yesterday (17th December 2013) in Belfast and been sentenced to two years’ imprisonment suspended for two years.
FACT investigations in 2008 led to Reid’s arrest by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in August 2008 where computer equipment and documents were seized. A subsequent search of in Wales of Lewis’s then home led to further equipment being seized.Hugh Reid from Belfast, Northern Ireland and Marcus Lewis from Suffolk, England set up and operated a website called Araditracker that had 33,000 members. Members paid one US dollar per gigabyte to be able to download and they were also incentivised to upload pirated content.
Money generated through the site was laundered through Reid’s previous business, Radiator Services NI Ltd. Araditracker was shut down but another website opened up under the guise of I Love To Buy Books where donations appeared to pay for eBooks.
Sentencing the pair, Her Honour Judge Corinne Philpott QC, said, “There are people who work here locally who work to make films in this jurisdiction and in others as well. There are also the people who work in cinemas, the people who distributed DVDS who are all affected by copyright infringements.”
A confiscation hearing is scheduled for January 2014 to recover £35,000 from Reid.
Kieron Sharp, FACT Director General, said, “FACT has pursued this case because sites such as Araditracker cause irreparable harm to the UK’s creative industries. This conviction and sentencing sends a strong message to others who are similarly involved in online criminality. Northern Ireland has become an important location for many popular global films and TV series and these criminal websites threaten the livelihoods of those employed directly and indirectly by those productions.”