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City Of London Police welcome sentencing in online piracy case

By | Published on Friday 23 June 2017

City Of London Police

The City Of London Police have welcomed a ruling earlier this week that saw three men receive suspended sentences totalling five years for their role in running a piracy operation which provided online access to a stack of unlicensed music, movies, games and e-books for a subscription fee.

The sentencing was the conclusion of a long-running investigation into the piracy operation run by Eric Brooks, Mark Valentine and Craig Lloyd, originally uncovered by anti-piracy body FACT in 2011 and subsequently investigated by the City Of London Police from 2012 onwards. A raid on Brooks’ home in Bolton in 2012 secured email records confirming he was running the piracy server and had received a high number of payments from the service’s users via PayPal, which – it turned out – exceeded £500,000.

Valentine and Lloyd were basically sub-letting server space from Brooks and selling access to the big pile of copyright infringing content themselves. Although their operations were somewhat smaller, Valentine made £34,000 out of the venture, while Lloyd saw income of over £70,000 from his involvement.

The three men were charged with conspiracy to defraud the entertainment industry just under a year ago and subsequently all pleaded guilty. Brooks got a 24 month sentence suspended for twelve months, and Valentine and Lloyd were handed eighteen month sentences also suspended for twelve months. All three men will also have to perform community service. Meanwhile, a future confiscation hearing will seek to ensure that any assets secured via the crime are taken away from the three defendants.

Commenting on the conclusion of the case, Detective Constable Chris Glover at the City Of London Police said: “Brooks, Valentine and Lloyd all thought that they were operating under the radar and doing something which they thought was beyond the controls of law enforcement. However, what today has shown is that activity of this kind is illegal and most definitely has its consequences. The actions of Brooks, Valentine and Lloyd and the result should act as deterrent for anyone else who is enticed by abusing the internet to the detriment of the entertainment industry”.

Meanwhile the boss of FACT, Kieron Sharp, added: “Today’s sentencing should send a strong warning to anyone involved in piracy; this is a crime which is taken very seriously and the repercussions can be severe as these men now realise”.

Sharp continued: “These individuals exploited the works of the creative industries for their own financial gain, pocketing hundreds of thousands of pounds. However, the harm to the industry was far greater as it reached the millions. There are so many people behind the scenes of our favourite films and shows such as set designers, make-up artists and electricians. If we let intellectual property crimes like this continue, the livelihoods and future of these people’s careers could be in jeopardy”.