Sky Deutschland has been awarded €2 million in damages after a case was brought against Belgian smart card pirates that exported unlicensed smart cards to Germany and Austria.
The First Instance Court of Tongeren sentenced two gang members to 18 and eight months in jail, a further two accused were given suspended sentences, while a third was acquitted.
Sky Deutschland, who as Premiere was pirated by the team between 2006 and 2008, will receive €1,850,000 in compensation from the gang leader and his company. A further €180,000 will be paid by his accomplice.
AEPOC, the European Association for the Protection of Encrypted Works and Services, which released details of the case on behalf of member Sky Deutschland said it was the first time that a severe prison sentence had combined with a realistic level of damages.
“Belgian law and enforcement has proven effective in such complex law suits as cross-border pay-TV piracy and industry crimes. In many other EU countries though we do not see such a satisfying functioning of the Conditional Access Directive and its implementation into national law,” said AEPOC President Philippe-Olivier Rousseau.
The gang had dealt in the supply of blank cards to enable viewing of the Premiere service. More than 5,700 cards were sold at an individual price of €75. Combined with software updates obtainable over the internet it is possible that the cards could have been in use for several years.
Commented AEPOC President Philippe-Olivier Rousseau: “It becomes crystal clear how detrimental piracy is to the Pay-TV industry looking at the sheer sum of damages to be paid within this single case alone – demonstrating the very criminal nature of Pay-TV piracy.
However, dealing a slight criticism of other jurisdictions, Rousseau added: “Belgium law and enforcement prove effective for such complex law suits of cross-border Pay-TV piracy and industry crimes. In many other EU countries though we do not see such a satisfying functioning of the Conditional Access Directive and its implementation into national law. Accordingly, AEPOC works inside the European Union for the harmonisation of laws and the introduction of minimum thresholds for sanctions to underline that Pay-TV piracy is a severe crime.”
Read more: Rapid TV News