Foxtel Pirates Sentenced For Card-Sharing, Illegal Set-Top Box Network

Two men -- a father and son -- were sentenced today in a Sydney court for illegally providing access to Foxtel's subscription TV network, using a network of encryption-breaking decoder cards and set-top boxes that they sold to over 8,000 people across Australia. This large-scale piracy ring was broken up by the Australian Federal Police and an anti-piracy company engaged by Foxtel.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

One of the men was sentenced to a six-month jail term followed by community service and home detention, while the other was placed on a good behaviour bond. A third man instrumental in the piracy network -- the one responsible for operating the card-sharing network itself -- is still facing charges. Foxtel released a statement welcoming the judgment.

According to the AFP, the vast majority of the people who were using the illegal card-sharing network and set-top boxes weren't even aware that the service was delivered illegitimately -- there's no word whether the money they presumably paid for the service was retrieved and returned to them.

Rob Van Nunen, Senior Director of Special Projects, Irdeto -- that's the antipiracy company employed to crack the case by Foxtel -- said that the two partners were clamping down on illegal downloads: “Piracy is a growing threat to pay media companies worldwide, and that is why we work closely with customers like Foxtel and local authorities like the AFP to disrupt pirate activity. We do not tolerate criminals that wish to undermine legitimate businesses and we invest resources, time, technology and experienced anti-piracy experts to protect our customers.”

This sentencing goes to show that if you're a pirate, there are consequences. Obviously the actions of these three are a little more severe than the average copyright infringer's weekly Game of Thrones download, but even the occasional torrent isn't an entirely victimless crime.

One last thing -- there's a snippet at the end of Foxtel's press release on the subject that says that the pay TV network "looks forward to working with the Attorney-General’s Department and the rest of the Australian media industry to address online piracy in Australia over the coming months." With the Australian government's piracy crackdown imminent, it's likely that Foxtel will have a lot to talk about.