A Chesterfield man has been sentenced to 3-and-a-half years in jail for illegally pirating movies as part of an online ‘release group’.
Graeme Reid, 41, was one of five members of the group that wanted to be the first to release the latest blockbusters on the web.
They five men were sentenced to a total of more than 17 years for conspiracy to defraud at Wolverhampton Crown Court on Thursday December 17.
Kieron Sharp, Director General of the Federation Against Copyright Theft, said: “Today’s sentencing is a great success for FACT as it marks the first time a release group has been criminally prosecuted. They were all aware that they were engaging in criminal activity. Their actions have now cost them their liberty.
“The result of this case sends out a serious message to anyone engaging in online piracy to think twice or face getting caught, prosecuted and sent to prison.”
The men were arrested at their homes on 1st February 2013 following an investigation by FACT with support from the police from West Midlands, Derbyshire, Hertfordshire and West Mercia, and the West Midlands Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN).
Over a number of years the group illegally ‘released’ more than 2,500 films including Argo, the Avengers and Skyfall.
Their actions are estimated to have cost the industry in excess of £5 million and on just one website their films had been downloaded millions times.
The case marks the first occasion that ‘release groups’ have been prosecuted.