U.S. Feds Break Up Illegal Streaming Network That Dwarfs Netflix’s Library

U.S. Feds Break Up Illegal Streaming Network That Dwarfs Netflix’s Library
Yes, I know what’s pictured above isn’t torrenting, but you try finding a picture of that. (Image: Getty)

Two of the minds behind the nation’s largest pirate streaming services, iStreamItAll and Jetflicks, have pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement charges, U.S. federal officials said Friday. Now we all can rest easier knowing there are a few less bad actors getting one over on multi-billion-dollar giants like Netflix and Disney.

A U.S. federal grand jury indicted the two men, Darryl Julius Polo, 36, and Luis Angel Villarino, 40, along with six other co-defendants back in August after feds busted their purported headquarters in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In his plea agreement, Polo told U.S. Department of Justice officials that his illicit subscription-based service, iStreamItAll, offered more than 118,000 television episodes and 10,000 movies. Both men also admitted to working as computer programmers for Jetflicks, another Las Vegas-based streaming service that Villarino claimed hosted close to 200,000 pirated TV episodes.

All that adds up to more content than Hulu, Netflix, Vudu and Amazon Prime combined, according to prosecutors. And all of it pirated from some of the world’s most-frequented torrent sites, circumventing copyright owners’ consent and cheating them out of what the DOJ estimates could amount to millions of dollars.

“Specifically, Polo used sophisticated computer programming to scour global pirate sites for new illegal content; to download, process, and store these works; and then make the shows and movies available on servers in Canada to [iStreamItAll] subscribers for streaming and downloading,” Justice Department officials said.

The services boasted tens of thousands of subscribers throughout the U.S., according to the defendants, and were designed to work across multiple devices and platforms including smartphones, tablets, and gaming consoles. As part of their advertising campaigns, Polo told officials he actively poached customers of licensed streaming services and urged them to make the switch, highlighting iStreamItAll’s comparatively larger library of content in email campaigns. While the DOJ’s report doesn’t go into further detail, I imagine he kept it on the DL that customers were quite literally getting a steal with this deal.

As part of their plea deals, both men pleaded guilty to criminal copyright charges, and Polo pleaded guilty to an additional charge of money laundering. Sentencing is currently scheduled for March 2020.

And that just goes to show you, dear reader, that pirating is naughty and you should never do it; after all, you wouldn’t steal a car, so don’t steal Stranger Things.