City of London Police said it was the first case of its type.
The prosecution was brought by the Premier League against Terry O’Reilly and Will O’Leary, who supplied the equipment to pubs and individuals. The Android-based devices scanned the internet for foreign TV channels, unlicensed in the UK, which programming including live Premier League Football.
The two were convicted at Nottingham Crown Court of conspiracy to defraud. O’Reilly was sentenced to four years in prison; O’Leary, pleaded guilty and received a two-year suspended prison sentence.
Premier League Director of Legal Services, Kevin Plumb, said: “Like other creative industries the Premier League’s model is predicated on the ability to market and sell rights and protect its intellectual property. It is because of this that clubs can invest in star players and managers, and world class stadiums – the very things fans enjoy about our competition.
“This case is particularly important as it is the first involving sellers of so-called IPTV devices which enable people to watch illegal content. The Courts have provided a clear message: this is against the law and selling systems which allow people to watch unauthorised Premier League broadcasts is a form of mass piracy and is sufficiently serious to warrant a custodial sentence.
The Premier League was supported by FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft) following a significant investigation by the City of London Police.
FACT Director General, Kieron Sharp said:“As the first sentencing of IPTV boxes in England, today’s result should send a hard-hitting message to anyone involved in selling illegally modified set-top boxes. The sale and distribution of these boxes, which are loaded with infringing apps and add-ons allowing access to copyrighted content, is a criminal offence and the repercussions could result in years behind bars.”
Sharp thanked the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) for its support.