On 21 August Philip Danks, ringleader of a sophisticated online and filming piracy network, was sentenced to 33 months in prison at Wolverhampton Crown Court after pleading guilty to distribution of pirate films. David Groome and Ari Alibhai, barristers at QEB Hollis Whiteman, acted for FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft), in this private prosecution.
Ari Alibhai commented: ‘David Groome and I practise exclusively as private prosecutors, mainly in the intellectual property arena: it's recognised by the creative industries that targeted private prosecutions against the most serious and significant infringers of copyright are an essential tool in the fight against piracy.’
More than 750,000 people downloaded the bootleg version of Fast & Furious 6 which Danks himself filmed in a cinema on the first day of its worldwide release. The judge described Danks as ‘bold, arrogant and cocksure’, and marked the seriousness of this offence with a lengthy custodial sentence.
Also on 21 August, co-defendant Michael Bell, who the prosecution accepted played a far lesser role, was sentenced to a community order with an unpaid work requirement.
The judge considered the most serious aspect of this offence was the loss to the film industry, estimated at £2.3 million. This is only the second case of its case of its kind globally where the cammer (recorder), encoder and online distributor of pirate movies have been prosecuted and convicted together.
The judge praised the prosecution’s presentation of the case and made specific reference to the quality of the written opening note setting out the case.
David Groome and Ari Alibhai have successfully conducted more 250 private prosecutions between them. Clients include the film industry, the British recorded music industry, PPL (formerly Phonographic Performance Limited), Virgin Media, the FA, the Premier League and a multitude of brand owners.
For the BBC news article please click HERE.