Burnley man processed payments for pirate football website
8:00pm Saturday 26th January 2013 in News
A WEB pirate from Burnley processed thousands of pounds from subscribers watching illegally downloaded Premier League games.
Jack Bannister, 25, of Portal Grove, was the banker in the 'sophisticated' copyright theft after he was hired by a man from Reading who streamed games from foreign satellite broadcasts using a huge satellite dish.
Bannister was convicted of transferring criminal property under the Proceeds of Crime Act, after he was hired by Gary Goodger to process around £26,000 from his customers using his Paypal account.
Goodger had been operating a website called freefootylive.com, which broadcast live Premier League games he picked up from foreign feeds using a 2m-wide satellite dish, seven computers and nine decorder boxes.
Goodger and Bannister had never met before their six-day trial in December and it was an internet business deal.
His defence barrister Guy Mathieson, said: "He had nothing to do with the computing, streaming, running of the website, setting up or administration of the website.
"Bannister became involved in December 2009 and payment to the paypal account stopped in 2012."
Bannister was given 140 hours community service and ordered to pay £500 costs after he was found guilty of transferring criminal property.
Sentencing Judge John Reddihough said: "I do accept your role was very subsidiary but you did allow your Paypal account to be used. You had always been suspicious about what was being done, despite this suspicion you continued to provide the account to be used for it and a considerable amount passed through it."
Goodger, 24, of Ratby Close, Lower Earley, was found guilty of one count of communicating a copyrighted work to the public contrary to the Copyright, Design & Patents Act.
He was given a six month suspended prison sentence for copyright offences at Reading Crown Court yesterday.
He also received 200 hours community service and a £1,750 fine.
The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) launched an investigation on behalf of the Premier League and supplied evidence to the Thames Valley Police Economic Crime Unit (ECU).
Numerous enforcement ‘cease and desist’ notices were sent to the website on behalf of the Premier League but Goodger’s activities continued.
The Premier League said after the verdict was announced in December that it was 'encouraged' by the outcome of the case which served to show that broadcasting copyright protected footage without authorisation can lead to a criminal conviction.
It explained that clubs, facilities and good causes all benefitted from the high investment in the league from legitimate broadcasters and this was threatened by those that breach copyright.
Speaking after the case, Kieron Sharp, director general of FACT said: "This is a groundbreaking case, proving conclusively that operating a website that rebroadcasts copyrighted works without permission is a criminal offence.
"These people didn't have permission and they knew it was criminal. This operation was very sophisticated as they captured the broadcast from the Middle East and charged people in this country to watch Premier League matches which can't be seen in this country at 3pm.
"They set out to make money from this, it wasn't just something so they could watch football with their mates.
"Hopefully these sentences will act as a deterrent."