A Sydney man has been sentenced to an 18-month suspended jail term for running an illegal piracy service that allowed 8,000 people to access Foxtel for free.
Haidar Majid Salam Al Baghdadi, 33, was convicted for operating a ring that used decoders and smartcards to allow other people unauthorised access to subscription television content. He ran the operation from his home in Sydney's south west.
Al Baghdadi was arrested and charged with five copyright offences in 2013 after an extensive probe involving the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Foxtel and digital security firm Irdeto. The maximum penalty for his crime is five years' imprisonment.
“Foxtel welcomes today’s court ruling and hopes it sends a strong signal that this type of activity is illegal," Foxtel CEO Peter Tonagh said.
“Foxtel takes intellectual property theft very seriously as it severely undermines the creative industry, including every business and individual that works so hard to deliver us the movies, sport, drama and entertainment we love.”
Tonagh said the pay TV broadcaster would continue to work with authorities to crackdown on piracy – a major threat to its subscription content business model.
Al Baghdadi's piracy conviction is part of a broader probe that also netted father and son, Michael Scherle, 48, and Daniel Albert Clark, 24.
In 2014, both were charged with offences relating to the manufacture, distribution and sale of unauthorised decoders that provided users with access to encoded Foxtel broadcasts.
A more recent case in which Foxtel didn't pursue charges involved subscribers, including Darren Sharpe, broadcasting the fight between Anthony Mundine and Danny Green on Facebook live, which allowed boxing fans to sidestep Foxtel's pay per view charge.
Another major piracy problem for the service is content stolen through torrenting, particularly for popular shows like Game of Thrones, which previously could be downloaded before it aired in Australia.
Irdeto senior vice president of cybersecurity services Rory O’Connor said the conviction is another step in the global fight against online piracy.
“The seriousness of these crimes should not be underestimated and this result is further proof that piracy will not be tolerate,” O’Connor said.
“Partnerships like this play a crucial role in not only detecting these pirate networks, but ensuring that the perpetrators are brought to justice.”
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