January 26, 2016 me_charity

5 UK movie pirates sentenced to 17 years of imprisonment

On February 1, 2013, UK’s Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) revealed they joined the Economic Crime Unit’s police officers to carry out raids on many parts of central England. After the anti-piracy group’s investigation, the police raided the most prolific online movie pirates in the UK namely Graeme Reid, Scott Hemming, Reece Baker, Sahil Rafiq, and Ben Cooper. They were arrested and all had pleaded guilty to charges of Conspiracy to Defraud by January 2015.

  1. Graeme Reid (jailed for 3 years and 6 months)
  • 40 years old, oldest among the 5
  • from Chesterfield
  • founder of RemixHD
  • has connections to UNiQUE
  • accused of causing 1.1 million illegal downloads
  1. Scott Hemming (received a 2-year suspended sentence)
  • 25 years old
  • from Birmingham
  • released around 800 movies onto the internet which together were downloaded 2.6 million times in minimum
  1. Reece Baker (jailed for 4 years and 2 months)
  • 22 years old, youngest among the 5
  • from Birmingham
  • member of DTRG
  • founder of HOPE/RESISTANCE
  • accused of causing 226,000 illegal downloads or more
  • continued to release movies onto the internet even while he was on bail aggravating his circumstances
  1. Sahil Rafiq (jailed for 4 years and 6 months)
  • 24 years old
  • from Wolverhampton
  • founder of 26K
  • accused of uploading more than 880 movies, causing 1.5 million illegal downloads
  1. Ben Cooper (jailed for 3 years and 6 months)
  • 33 years old
  • from Willenhall
  • founder of ANALOG and TCM
  • member of HOPE
  • blamed for more than 150,000 illegal downloads

For 3 years, FACT was running an investigation of the activities of these men in an attempt to identify and track those who are behind various interrelated movie release groups like DTRG, UNiQUE, RemixHD, HOPE/RESISTANCE and 26K. According to FACT, altogether the groups released more than 9,000 movies online which resulted to around 5 million unauthorized views between March 1, 2010 and January 1, 2014.

The anti-piracy group claimed that an amount of £52 million in Hollywood revenues was “put at risk”. Following the “Newton hearing” last month, each of the five men admitted causing losses of around £1 million to the industry, more than £5 million in total. Sentencing for the five pirates was carried out by Wolverhampton Crown Court Judge Nicolas Webb.

This is FACT’s most aggressive private prosecution to date and it certainly delivered remarkable results. FACT Director General, Kieron Sharp said “Today’s sentencing is a great success for FACT as it marks the first time a release group has been criminally prosecuted. Rafiq, Baker, Reid, Cooper and Hemming were all aware that they were engaging in criminal activity. Their actions have now cost them their liberty.”

Finally, things got very real with this particular copyright infringement case and infringers should start to worry. TorrentFreak was informed by a source very close to the case that the sentences would have been greater if the pirates had not pleaded guilty early. And as what Sharp said, “The result of this case sends out a serious message to anyone engaging in online piracy to think twice or face getting caught, prosecuted and sent to prison.”

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