Stanley Ashton of the Friary Vaults in St Judes, Plymouth, was convicted after a prosecution by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) for showing Sky Sports programmes in his bar using a domestic system.
He was originally acquitted of the offences on September 5 last year at Plymouth magistrates court. FACT chose to appeal against the acquittal in the High Court, which found in favour of FACT, and the case was reverted back to the magistrates court to determine the issue of dishonesty.
On November 12, Ashton was found guilty of three offences of dishonest reception of a television transmission, which was a Sky televised football match, at the Friary Vaults without a commercial viewing agreement, contrary to Section 297 (1) of the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988.
Stephen Gerrard, prosecuting manager for FACT, said: “We were concerned that the magistrate’s interpretation of the law at the original trial was flawed. It was decided that we should ask the High Court to review the decision and the High Court agreed with our judgment.
“This conviction sends out a clear message that people who use domestic viewing systems to show Sky programmes in commercial premises could end up in court and with a criminal conviction.”
Alison Dolan, deputy managing director at Sky Business, said: “This case reinforces the message that licensees without a commercial viewing agreement, who are using any system that allows access to matches to which Sky has exclusive rights, will face legal action.
“Sky will continue to support FACT in prosecuting licensees who break the law to help protect the thousands of hardworking licensees who invest in Sky Sports to build their businesses and entertain their customers.”
FACT conducted this prosecution as part of Sky’s ongoing commitment to protecting legitimate Sky Sports venues by cracking down on a minority of licensees who continue to show Sky in their pubs and bars without the correct viewing contract. There have been more than 1,500 similar prosecutions to date and hundreds of further cases are in the pipeline.
FACT warns that convicted licensees can expect to face substantial fines, costs and the possibility of having their personal licences suspended or revoked.
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