A British man has escaped jail after a court found he had illegally streamed Premier League football matches and charged customers to watch them.
Gary Goodger, who showed the games at freelivefooty.com, was convicted of communicating a copyrighted work to the public in the course of a business. He could have faced a two-year prison term but received a suspended sentence. He was fined £1,750 ($2,760).
Goodger set up the site in 2005, offering much lower prices than official Premier League broadcaster Sky. Customers paid via a PayPal account, which was set up by accomplice Jack Bannister and used to process some of the payments.
The men were arrested in 2010, following an investigation by lobbying group the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT). They were charged in 2011. Goodger is believed to have made tens of thousands of pounds but no exact figure was available owing to the investigation’s complexity.
On January 25 Goodger avoided jail, while Bannister was ordered to do unpaid work for his conviction of transferring criminal property. Bannister was fined £500 ($790).
The case is interesting because Goodger had received cease and desist letters, which suggests Sky had tried to settle the matter under civil law. But with the help of FACT, the case came before the criminal courts.
“Criminal copyright cases are rarely pursued, unless trading standards have seized tangible goods,” said Dan Byrne, associate at Bristows in London.
“If Sky had taken the civil route then they could have recovered some money, so they seem to be sending a strong message here about copyright infringement,” he said.
Byrne argued that the case will act as a deterrent “because if you have big plans to operate similar operations, then you will get caught. This was clearly unlawful behaviour”.
Sky’s current package for showing Premier League football games, which lasts from 2013 to 2016, is worth £760 million a year.
This article was first published on 29 January 2013 in World IP Review
premier league, gary goodger, freelivefooty.com, karen murphy, decoder