Jail for man who sold unofficial Sky systems to licensees

By Lewis Brown

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Sky sports, Bedfordshire, Crime

Sky said the sentence "should act as a wake-up call to those licensees"
Sky said the sentence "should act as a wake-up call to those licensees"
A man has been jailed for 16 months for selling systems to pubs that allowed access to Sky Sports without a commercial viewing agreement.

Michael Gearty, who pleaded guilty to fraud and other offences in November, was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment by Luton Crown Court on December 17, 2013, whilst co-defendant Steven Ellis received a 12 month suspended community order.

Investigation

The investigation into the supplier began after a Dreambox satellite decoder supplied by Gearty was found in a Nottingham pub by investigators working for Sky. The investigators alerted Bedfordshire police, who raided properties in Luton and Dunstable on 13 ​February 2012.

The Dreambox, which is a set top box, was used illegally because it allowed Sky Sports coverage to be showed with the aid of an internet connection, without a commercial viewing agreement from Sky Business.

To date, more than 1,500 licensees have been convicted for showing Sky Sports without a commercial agreement in cases brought by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT). Since the end of the 2012-13 football season alone, over 20 licensees have received criminal convictions in such cases.

'Wake-up call'

Alison Dolan, deputy managing director at Sky Business, said: "This sentence should act as a wake-up call to those licensees who continue to listen to suppliers who tell them they can show Sky Sports via an alternative system and avoid prosecution.

"We will continue to support FACT in prosecuting licensees who break the law to help ensure that the thousands of law-abiding pubs and clubs who pay for legitimate commercial Sky subscriptions are not short-changed.”

Stephen Gerrard, prosecuting manager, FACT said: “This sentence demonstrates how seriously the courts take piracy. We have recently heard that some licensees believe that they can use these systems to show Sky Sports and by covering logos on screen they will be acting within the law.

"This is simply not true. The showing of Sky Sports without the required commercial agreement can lead to criminal prosecutions being brought under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act and/or the Fraud Act.

"If you are showing Sky Sports in your premises without a commercial agreement from Sky then we advise you to urgently seek legal advice that is independent from the supplier of the equipment."

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