The head of a web forum known as PIR8 has been sentenced to four years in jail, the longest term for a film piracy case in the UK to date. A further five men who worked for the site were also sentenced to imprisonment on Friday (8th December) at Birmingham Crown Court.
PIR8 facilitated the selling of pirate material, including CDs and DVDs, to over 13,000 users in the UK.
The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) prosecuted the case following a three year investigation into the group. Assistance in the investigation was given by the BPI (the record industry trade body) anti-piracy unit.
All six men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud. Lee Richard Bennett, the owner of the PIR8 site, was sentenced to four years imprisonment. Barry Jarvis, the website administrator, was sentenced to one year's imprisonment, as were Kevin Bowles and Robert Chester. Jason Morgan and Christopher Pomroy were sentenced to six months' imprisonment.
In total 26 computers were seized together with a server that was lodged on an industrial site in Sheffield and linked directly back to Bennett. This was the first case of its kind to come before the UK criminal courts.
Kieron Sharp, FACT director general, told Screen: "This was a major criminal conspiracy involving thousands of pounds in illegal activities. Bennett has been in trouble before for similar offences and clearly can't leave the criminal side of internet film distribution alone."