Instructed by Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland to prosecute in the alleged operation of the film torrent site Araditracker. Hugh Reid and Marcus Lewis pleaded guilty at Belfast Crown Court to distributing articles that infringed copyright law.
FACT MEDIA RELEASE: WEBSITE OWNERS PLEAD GUILTY: RECEIVE TWO YEAR SUSPENDED PRISON SENTENCES.
A father and son-in-law who ran a website that provided downloads of films, games and books have both pleaded guilty at a court hearing yesterday in Belfast and been sentenced to two years' imprisonment suspended for two years.
Hugh Reid from Belfast, Northern Ireland and Marcus Lewis from Suffolk, England set up and operated a website called Araditracker that had 33,000 members. Members paid one US dollar per gigabyte to be able to download and they were also incentivised to upload pirated content.
FACT investigations in 2008 led to Reid's arrest by the Police Service of Northern Ireland in August 2008 where computer equipment and documents were sized. A subsequent search of in Wales of Lewis's then home led to further equipment being seized.
Money generated through the site was laundered through Reid's previous business, Radiator Services NI Ltd. Araditracker was shut down but another website opened up under the guise of I Love To Buy Books where donations appeared to pay for eBooks.
Sentencing the pair, Her Honour Judge Corinne Philpott QC, said,"There are people who work here locally who work to make to make films in this jurisdiction and in others as well. There are also the people who work in cinemas, the people who distributed DVDs who are all affected by copyright infringements."
A confiscation hearing is scheduled for January 2014 to recover £35,000 from Reid.
Kieron Sharp, FACT Director General, said, "FACT has pursued this case because sites such as Araditracker cause irreparable harm to the UK's creative industries. This conviction and sentencing sends a strong message to others who are similarly involved in online criminality. Northern Ireland has become an important location for many popular global films and TV series and these criminal websites threaten the livelihoods of those employed directly and indirectly by those productions."
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