The defendants, who operate the largest Arabic internet pirate IPTV service, were tried for various crimes under Swedish law including Violation of the Decoder Act, Violation of the Copyright Act, Crimes against the Offensive Weapons Act and Crime against the Trademark Act; and received prison terms ranging from one year to two and a half years, subject to appeal. The defendants were also ordered to pay a total of €18.8 million in damages (plus interest and legal costs) to beIN Media Group and €1.4 million in damages (plus interest and legal costs) to Albania’s DigitAlb, the two legitimate broadcasters who were victims of the piracy.
According to Nordic Content Protection (NCP), who originally filed the complaint against ATN in 2016, ATN is based in Malmö, Sweden but also has operations in the United States, Greece, Denmark and Canada. Its activities consist of appropriating the reception and then decoding, packaging and re-transmitting TV broadcasts to its own paying clientele. The pirate network has provided its customers with access to illegal pirate streams of over 2,000 channels, with a focus on channels emanating from the Middle East and Turkey. The ruling announced today has dealt a significant blow to ATN’s ability to operate moving forwards; and sends a resounding message to pirate broadcast operations around the world that enforcement authorities are applying the full force of the law to extinguish the illegal operations.
NCP adds that as a sign of the inter-connectivity and audacity of the pirate ATN operation, during the course of the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia, ATN has re-streamed FIFA-owned content from another pirate channel, beoutQ, which emanates from Saudi Arabia. beoutQ has received significant international condemnation for its high-profile piracy of sports content from beIN Media Group, distributing that content on the Riyadh-based satellite provider Arabsat. beIN Media Group supported NCP in its case against ATN, including providing expert witness testimony. The trial judgment is appealable.
Speaking about the ruling Anders Braf, CEO of NCP, said: “We are delighted that the Swedish courts have taken a strong stance against the industrial piracy perpetrated by ATN. Our membership is comprised of the leading broadcasters and content makers in the Nordic region and we all share a common concern about the growing rate and sophistication of broadcast piracy. Not only does it present a serious threat to the funding of the television and film industries, it also threatens the funding of sports and entertainment rights holders. The prison sentences and record fines handed down in this case send a clear message to broadcast pirates – the industry is taking action and we will use the full extent of the law to see offenders brought to justice.”
Cameron Andrews, senior legal counsel – anti Ppiracy, of beIN Media Group, added: “This legal case is really significant in the fight against illegal TV pirates. TV pirates like ATN package hundreds, and often thousands of pirated television channels from around the world, and then make big money by selling subscriptions. These businesses are parasites, making huge profits off the back of stolen content. The damages and prison sentences ordered by the Swedish court reflect the serious harm that piracy on this scale causes. Enforcement actions like this ruling against ATN are an important part of the legitimate industry’s efforts to tackle this piracy, and sends a strong message that piracy on this scale will not be tolerated. We sincerely thank Nordic Content Protection for their efforts and determination in bringing the pirates to justice.”
Alban Jaho, CEO of DigitAlb, said: “Today’s ruling sets a clear precedent that those responsible should repay the significant financial losses that are incurred by the rightful owners of the content they are stealing. Piracy is theft – plain and simple – and it is only right that those responsible are punished. In this case, record fines and prison terms have been issued and we hope that this sets an example for other authorities around the world to follow.”