Four Brits Sentenced to Multiyear Jail Terms for Illegally Streaming Hollywood Movies

Four British men have been sentenced a combined 4.5 years jail time for operating a website that afforded users illegal access to Hollywood movies, including Lionsgate U.K.’s The Expendables 3, before they were available in theatres.

Prosecutors say the group – which included Steven Pegram (40), Mark Rollin (37), Paul Taylor (54), and Alan Stephenson (42) — defrauded Lionsgate, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and other studios of more than $11 million in combined box office revenue, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.

Specifically, the group hacked Lionsgate’s U.K. server in 2014 through a third-party cloud-based content management service, accessing The Expendables 3 DVD screener and other content and then posting the title on their file-sharing website, TheFoundry.name.

Lionsgate estimates it lost about $2 million on the scheme. Other hacked titles included Warner Bros.’ Godzilla and 20th Century Fox’s X-Men: Days of Future Past — the two movies suffering more than $5 million in lost revenue.

“These defendants set up and ran a site which allowed users to download films for free via BitTorrent, including the Expendables 3 before its release in the cinema,”Leigh Webber, with the specialist fraud division of the U.K.’s Crown Prosecution Service, said in a statement.“All of them had a clear knowledge of what the site was used for and were well aware they were breaching the copyright of the production companies.”

The Expendables 3, the last installment in Sylvester Stallone’s ensemble action franchise, resulted in numerous litigation settlements between Lionsgate and pirate sites, including Hulkfile, Played.to, LimeTorrents, Dotsemper and Swankshare.

MPA Secures Ireland Court Ruling Blocking Piracy Websites

The Motion Picture Association, the international arm of the Motion Picture Association of America, has secured a High Court injunction in Ireland enabling Internet service providers to block websites streaming pirated movies and TV shows.

Commercial Court Judge Brian McGovern Jan. 15 ruled there was “significant public interest” under the 2000 Copyright and Related Act granting the orders against ISPs Eircom, Sky Ireland, Vodafone Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland, Three Ireland, Digiweb, Imagine Telecommunications and Magnet Networks.

The ISPs did not contest the ruling.

The MPA, which represents Sony Pictures Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., Twentieth Century Fox, Universal Pictures and Walt Disney Studios and Lionsgate, among others, alleges upwards of 1.5 million people in Ireland could be illegally downloading/streaming copyrighted content.

Infringing websites included gowatchfreemovies.to, EXTV.ag, 123movieshub.to and Rarbg.to.

The MPA reportedly found that the eight websites targeted had generated more than 6 million visits last October. Several of the sites have also been blocked in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Austria and Norway.

Stan McCoy, president and managing director of MPA EMEA, said the court ruling would safeguard consumers against pirated content, in addition to helping more than 18,000 people employed by the Irish film industry.

“As the Irish film industry is continuing to thrive, the MPA is dedicated to supporting that growth by combatting the operations of illegal sites that undermine the sustainability of the sector,” McCoy said in a statement.