Intellectual Property Private Prosecutions

A team highly regarded by industry bodies for their expertise in private prosecutions of criminal copyright infringement offences, their knowledge, experience and skill in the field is unrivalled.

Overview

Chambers has a highly specialised intellectual property unit, led by David Groome and Ari Alibhai, which has successfully undertaken almost 300 private prosecutions on behalf of major multinational organisations in music, film, sport and broadcast media, including: the Football Association Premier League; Federation Against Copyright Theft; Sky plc; The British Recorded Music Industry; and Virgin Media plc.

The team’s experience is unrivalled and their performance within the field, formidable.  They have acted in the majority of intellectual property related private prosecutions over the last 10 years and have been at the forefront of almost every ground-breaking decision and prosecution success.

Our Experience

This unit has been responsible for almost every major copyright and trade mark private prosecution brought in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The principal members of the team practise exclusively in this field, are recognised by both Chambers UK and the Legal 500 as leaders and have trained the specialist fraud division of the CPS in the prosecution of complex intellectual property fraud as well as investigators at the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), British Recorded Music Industry formerly the BPI and numerous trading standards services.

Team leaders were counsel for FACT in one of the most notable cases in this field: R v Anton Vickerman (2008-2012).  This was the first time that online piracy had been effectively prosecuted within the jurisdiction. Anton Vickerman, who set up and ran one of the world's most visited pirate websites "surfthechannel", attracting more than 400,000 visitors per day and generating advertising revenues of at least $50,000 per month, was found guilty of Conspiracy to Defraud by "facilitating" the infringement of copyright.  At its peak www.surfthechannel.com was the 500th most visited website globally and provided access to more than 5,000 pirated films and TV programmes.  The case was multi-jurisdictional and inherently complex; the website was controlled by Vickerman and run through a limited company, Scopelight Ltd, which funnelled profits to a bank account in Latvia.  This case is of huge significance in the field and was cited in the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s report: Supporting the creative economy.

Team leaders also prosecuted successfully for FACT in R v Rafiq and others, a multi-million-pound fraud conspiracy using film 'release groups', the first such prosecution outside the US.  Release groups are underground online networks responsible for obtaining, encoding and distributing illegal digital copies of major motion pictures.  Many of the thousands of films they pirated and released online were on their cinema run, and the defendants were often responsible for uploading the very first illegal copy of a film on the Internet; the films targeted by these defendants included Skyfall and Argo.  This was the first ever prosecution of a release group outside the USA and only the second time such a group has been prosecuted anywhere in the world.  It resulted in prison sentences for all five defendants.

Principal members have recently successfully prosecuted R v O’Reilly & O’Leary, the first UK/European case concerning the supplier of an IPTV (internet protocol television) system, whose operators defrauded UK and international broadcasters. The team prosecuted on behalf of the Football Association Premier League and Federation Against Copyright Theft.

More broadly the team advises on designing and implementing private prosecution systems to reduce exposure to intellectual property theft.  They frequently speak at seminars on private prosecution nationally and internationally.  They are held in the highest regard by industry bodies and corporates across the globe.

Notable Cases

R -v- Sohail Rafiq, Reece Baker, Graham Reid and Ben Cooper (2015) 
Five receive prison sentences in private prosecution for illegal film distribution.

R -v- Mahoney (2015) 
A Northern Ireland man was sentenced to 4 years in prison at Londonderry Crown Court last week for running an internet piracy scam.

Helidon Vuciterni (2014) 
David Groome and Ari Alibhai acted for the Premier League in the successful prosecution today of Helidon Vuciterni.

Dancing Jesus (aka: Kane Robinson -&- Richard Graham) (2014) 
Private Prosecution success against Dancing Jesus websit.e

R -v- Danks (Philip) (2014) 
Philip Danks, ringleader of a sophisticated online and filming piracy network, was sentenced to 33 months in prison at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

R -v- Reid & Lewis - Araditracker (2013) 
Instructed by Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland to prosecute in the alleged operation of the film torrent site Araditracker.

R -v- Zinga (Munaf) (2013) 
Private Prosecution (on behalf of Virgin Media Ltd) of importer and wholesaler of devices designed to defraud Virgin Media.

R -v- Helidon Vuciterni (2013) 
Private Prosecution (on behalf of FAPL) of defendant for alleged operation of a card-sharing network.

R v Rayyonics Ltd (2012) 
Illicit set-top box supplier. Rayyonics LTD designed, manufactured and imported the Eurovox series of television set-top-boxes, which, when programmed, enabled access to the entire Virgin Media subscription television service without payment. Zinga sold approximately 400,000 set-top-boxes in a conspiracy spanning some 3 years. The judge Ordered a £8.7 million confiscation order. 

R v Vickerman (Anton) (2012) 
Private Prosecution (on behalf of Federation Against Copyright Theft) of the most popular pirate film indexing site in the world.

 

Recent Cases

R v John Trevor Dodds & Others (2017-2018)

Team leaders instructed to prosecute this multimillion pound fraud against the providers of...

R v Haggerty and others (2017)

David Groome and Ari Alibhai lead in a prosecution regarding fraud on behalf of...

R v William O'Leary & Terence O'Reilly (2016)

David Groome led Ari Alibhai in this successful prosecution on behalf of...

R v William Marston (2016)

Ari Alibhai is currently instructed privately to prosecute this matter on behalf of Satellite...

R v Mahoney (2015)

A Northern Irish man was sentenced to 4 years in prison at Londonderry Crown Court last...

News

Articles

Ari Alibhai co-authors Private Prosecution Practice Note for Lexis Nexis

QEB Hollis Whiteman member Ari Alibhai, private prosecution specialist, collaborated with solicitor David Northfield of Fieldfisher LLP to produce a Practice Note, Protecting Intellectual Property through Private Prosecutions for legal publisher Lexis Nexis PSL series.  

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