FutbolHD Operator Handed A 10 Month Prison Sentence Following Complaints from CN+

By Nitish Singh / June 8, 2018

The former operator of a popular pirate soccer streaming service, FutbolHD, has been handed a suspended ten-month prison sentence and a $43,000 fine by a court in Poland. The operator was accused of offering illegal links to soccer matches and infringed the copyrights of broadcasters according to Poland’s Penal Code. The website was originally known for its large pool of match highlights and other pre-recorded content; the site began posting live streams illegally recently which caught the attention of several copyright holders.

Pirated streams are becoming a problem for broadcasters as users are able to access copyrighted content without any payments being forwarded to the copyright holders. Despite the quality of illegal streams not being close to what legitimate websites can offer for a fee, users are willing to sacrifice quality in exchange for getting free access to sports content.

Soccer has the largest fanbase in the world, with an estimated 3.5 billion people watching matches all over the world. It also makes it the most pirated sports in the world with hundreds of websites offering pirated streams for free or for very modest fees. While many football leagues do not care about piracy, leagues that charge a premium for live streams often step in and take matters to court. Poland’s leading broadcaster NC+ filed a lawsuit against FutbolHD, which is one of the most popular pirate soccer broadcasting services in the court. Legal proceedings began in 2017, and the court declared its verdict earlier today.

The former operator running FutbolHD has been sentenced to 10 months of prison time which needs to be served within the next three years. According to broadcasters, custodial sentences that are handed out on a case by case basis do little to deter illegal streaming sites, and alternative measures need to be thought of. Pirate sites are very easily replaced once taken down in a matter of hours in some cases. UK’s Premier League has started blocking pirate streams directly at the source, and reports suggest that the number of pirate streams has come down drastically.

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