Dec 142012

A man from Reading has been convicted of a number of copyright offences in relation to the illegal streaming of football matches.

Gary Goodger, aged 24, from Ratby Close, Lower Earley, was found guilty at Reading Crown Court on Wednesday, 12 December of one count of communicating a copyrighted work to the public in the course of a business contrary to S.107(2A) of the Copyright, Design & Patents Act 1988.

His accomplice, Jack Bannister, aged 23, from Portal Grove, Burnley, Lancashire, was found guilty of transferring criminal property contrary to S.327(1)(d) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, after he was hired by Goodger to process payments from the copyright offences.

Goodger was the operator of a website called “freelivefooty” that made unauthorised broadcasts of live Barclays Premier League football matches to subscribers worldwide. Goodger took the matches illegally from foreign satellite broadcasts using a two-metre satellite dish, seven computers and nine satellite decoder boxes at his home.

The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) commenced an investigation on behalf of the Premier League, a FACT member, and supplied evidence to the Thames Valley Police Economic Crime Unit (ECU), who arrested Goodger and Bannister in November 2010.   Numerous “cease and desist” notices had been sent to the website on behalf of the Premier League but Goodger’s activities continued.

Investigations showed that Bannister had processed the money through his PayPal account.

Both men were subsequently charged on 27 June 2011 and found guilty after a six-day trial.   Both men will be sentenced at Reading Crown Court on 25 January 2013.

Det Con Lisa Child, from Thames Valley Police’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “Goodger is believed to have made tens of thousands of pounds through illegally streaming football matches to subscribers to his website, although no exact figure is available due to the complexity of the investigation.

“We will now be looking to take action under the Proceeds of Crime Act to recover some of the cash he made illegally.”

Kieron Sharp, FACT Director General, said: “This is a groundbreaking case, proving conclusively that operating a website that rebroadcasts copyrighted works without permission is a criminal offence.  It is also clear that those running such sites are doing so for profit and running businesses off the back of others’ work.”

A Premier League spokesman added: “This case yet again shows that broadcasting Premier League copyright protected footage without authorisation can lead to a criminal conviction.

“The Premier League is based on a high-investment model, driving fan demand by providing football that people want to watch. Our clubs acquire and develop talented players, play matches in fantastic facilities, invest in other leagues and make significant contributions to good causes.

“The whole industry benefits and copyright infringement threatens that entire model. It is encouraging to see the Court recognise that with this judgment.”