UK man gets 54 months' jail for pirating TV

A man has been found sentenced to four and a half years in prison for selling unauthorised set-top decoder boxes enabling illegal access to TV subscription services, including Sky, BT and Virgin.

Michael Hornung, formerly of Hyde, Greater Manchester, was convicted of the offences – carried out over a three-year period between 2014 and 2017 – in a jury trial last month. He was arrested in February 2017 and was charged with various offenses, including fraud, but denied the charges.

He later absconded from the UK but was tried in his absence and was found guilty on all charges in May.

On sentencing, Judge Angela Nield said that the offense had affected a large number of victims including not only the rights holders, but also the legitimate subscribers of pay TV services who effectively subsidise those who unlawfully access them.

The court previously heard that Hornung created and supplied the TV boxes so that his customers could avoid having to pay the subscription fee for broadcasting services, trading under the name 'NoHatsNoTrainers' via the online platform CS World.

In June 2014, a test purchase was conducted, and it was found that the device was enabled to access hundreds of channels from Virgin's cable subscription service, including Sky Sports and Sky Movies, without any payment being made.

The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) – which worked with Greater Manchester Police on the investigation – said in a statement that the jail sentence "should provide a warning to anyone involved in supplying illegal content. FACT’s work with broadcasters and rights holders will continue in order to crack down on illegal streaming and to hold those behind it accountable for their actions."

"FACT will continue to monitor channels used to advertise, market, sell and distribute apps, devices, and streams and take action against suppliers and operators," commented FACT's chief executive Kieron Sharp.

"Individuals are motivated by the financial benefits from providing illegal content, but FACT is leading the way in combating digital piracy and, in this case, have worked closely with Greater Manchester Police to hold this person accountable for his criminal activities."

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