'Grrr Pirates, We Got Ya!': Foxtel

Written by Oonagh Reidy     07/05/2014 | 09:45 | Category: INDUSTRY

Foxtel pirates sentenced to jail

Rupert Murdoch's 50%-owned Pay TV giant welcomed the imprisonment of Foxtel pirates, a father and son, Michael Scherle, 48, and Daniel Albert Clark, 24, in Sydney this week. 

The two Sydney men were charged with providing unauthorised access to Foxtel channels, and charged with criminal offences relating to the manufacturing, distribution and sale of dodgy boxes and TV services.

The duo hacked into encoded Foxtel broadcasts via the Internet through dodgy decoders. Around 10,000 set top boxes were sold to consumers many of whom were unaware the items were illegal, Foxtel said in a statement. 

Scherle was sentenced to a six month gaol term followed by home detention and community service, while Clark was also found guilty and placed on a good behaviour bond, by a Sydney court. 

The men were arrested in December following investigations involving the AFP, Foxtel investigators and anti-piracy experts, Irdeto, which uncovered an organised criminal network committing widespread intellectual property theft of Foxtel services. 

A third man, Haidar Majid Salam Al Baghdadi, 29, is also facing charges for operating a card-sharing network that allegedly provided 8,000 users with illegal access to Foxtel channels. His case continues.

Foxtel, who is also trying to fight the massive piracy of hit TV shows like Game Of Thrones, Breaking Bad and other cult US series that are available only via Foxtel subscription.

Online piracy via Pirate Bay and bit torrent sites are a "big emerging problem" and you no longer need an intermediary like the duo convicted, Bruce Meagher, Group Director - Corporate Affairs told Smarthouse. 

It is now a far bigger problem that the traditional dodgy card and boxes networks that used to dominate the piracy scene.

"Australians have a big propensity to pirate shows," he said. 

However, the Foxtel exec denied the distribution model, where the hit shows are available via Foxtel subscription only, is forcing viewers to pirate. 

"In no other industry would someone say 'I don't agree with the price or business model, so I'll steal it', he said referring to the "moral disconnect" taking place. 

Foxtel's CEO Richard Freudenstein said the verdict sent a strong message to pirates. 

"Piracy is theft, and it's illegal. It not only undermines the business models of companies like Foxtel, but of every one of the creative businesses and people who work so hard to supply us with channels, programs, and services. Piracy damages the entire Australian creative and entertainment industry." 

Rob Van Nunen, Senior Director of piracy experts, Irdeto, also warned, "Piracy is a growing threat to pay media companies worldwide, and that is why we work closely with customers like Foxtel and local authorities like the AFP to disrupt pirate activity. "

But, there's plenty more where these convicted pirates came from,  and investigations will continue. 

There also a pirates dob in hotline at ASTRA - 1800 428 888.