Piracy

A UK Man Who Leaked Pre-Release Films Gets Prison Sentence

Written by Bill Toulas
Last updated September 27, 2021

A resident of Halifax, UK, named Malik Luqman Farooq received a bashing sentence of 27 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud. The 31-year-old man was arrested a few years ago by the City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) after an investigation that was carried out by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) pointed to him. The court that decided upon the fate of Farooq was that of the Southwark Crown, in London, and it didn’t intend to go easy on the man.

According to the indictment, Farooq committed his wrongdoings between September 2014 and April 2015, when he managed to infiltrate the systems of filmmakers and steal movies that were in a pre-release state. The man then used the alias “Dark999” to sell the movies illegally online, with one of the most notable examples of a work that was leaked this way being the film “Fast & Furious 7”. In total, Farooq and his accomplices sold over 15 movies that hadn’t reached the cinema screens yet. The other men of the group are Aditya Raj and Jitesh Jadhav from India, Sam Nhance from Dubai, and Ghobhirajah Selvarajah from Malaysia. These four are listed in the indictment but are out of UK’s reach.

Farood is also listed in an indictment approved by a Federal Court in California, which was the result of a legal action initiated by the US Department of Justice. This means that the film pirate is most probably in a lot more serious trouble and is not going to be left free with the 27 months of imprisonment. The DoJ followed the group’s traces after they found that they had rented servers from OVH to store stolen movies. One of the films found there while it wasn’t released yet was the Expendables 3.

Leaking pre-release movies is very damaging for production studios and filmmakers, and is considered way worse than pirating movies that are already in the cinema. This is reflected in the punishment, as well as the hunt that took place against Farooq on an international level. For the identification and tracking down of the pirate, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators collaborated with UK’s PIPCU, as well as the French and Canadian authorities (where the servers were based). The other four men remain fugitives, but they shouldn’t be very relaxed with all that is going on.



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