Three employees of an agency that placed adverts on pirate sites have been handed suspended prison sentences in Germany. After brokering ad space on popular piracy portals including kino.to and iload.to, generating profits of more than 350,000 euros in the process, the individuals were found guilty of aiding and abetting copyright infringement.
While there are several business models that are able to keep pirate sites up and running, advertising is one of the most popular. Until now, pirate site operators have been the main targets for law enforcement agencies but the recent case proves that the authorities are prepared to extend their reach so as to include other players within the content theft ecosystem.
According to Germany-based anti-piracy group GVU, the Leipzig District Court has now sentenced three employees of an Internet advertising agency to prison terms for aiding and abetting copyright infringement.
The investigation was led by the Integrated Investigation Unit Saxony (INES) at the Saxon Attorney General’s Office and supported by the GVU with analysis and insights.
“The defendants had brokered advertising space on well-known piracy portals such as kino.to or iload.to and displayed lucrative banner ads on a large scale,” GVU reveals. “In this way, they achieved profits of more than 350,000 euros. They were aware that they were involved with structurally copyright infringing sites, which apparently offered almost exclusively copyrighted files for download and streaming.”
The manager of the agency received a sentence of one year and eight months, with two programmers each receiving one year and four months in prison. However, since the defendants confessed, all sentences were suspended.
While commenting off the record director of an Ukrainian digital agency claimed: “I don’t think it correct to shift the onus onto the agency and advertisers alone. As of today it is not deemed breach of law. And if the authorities view them as pirates why are the sites and players are still operating? I am sure this falls within the jurisdiction of law enforcement authorities. Examples are not far to seek: sites, such as vk, mail, tandex have been blocked literally within a week. The relevant tools are available. There is just no wish to find the way.”
While objecting to the above Katerina Fedorova, Head, Clear Sky Initiative, says:
“As to the content thieves hosted in Ukraine we block access to them via law enforcement agencies. However, the majority of sites involved in content theft are hosted abroad, mostly in Russia.”
According to GVU the verdict sets a significant precedent because up to now no advertising agency in Germany has ever been prosecuted for its support of illegal portal sites.
Andrey Osipov, Lawyer, Attorney-at-Law, expert with Institute for Political Education Ukraine is of the opinion that the actual fact of controlling internet piracy in Germany is a perfect role model for law enforcement practice in Ukraine: It is quite an illustrative case for showing the proper way for authorities to protect rightholders and prosecute offenders. Ukraine provides a wide range of possibilities to bring legal cases against unfair advertisers. It is as far back as April 2017 that Art. 176 of Ukraine’s Criminal Code was amended so as to introduce liability for piracy financing . Advertising placement on pirate portals is nothing else but purchase of stolen audience to promote one’s own commodities. I am quite sure that Ukraine will before long witness first sentences against the advertisers placing their adverts on portals stealing someone else’s property.”
Source: Torrent Freak