During May 2013, TorrentFreak received an email from an individual in the UK who detailed serious problems he’d experienced in the preceding days.
On May 23 at 07:30, five unmarked cars containing 10 police officers and representatives from the Federation Against Copyright Theft tried to apprehend the man at this former address. That error was quickly corrected and within minutes three cars, four detectives and two FACT officers had made it to the correct location.
The police were looking for Philip Danks, a man from Walsall in the West Midlands. Their information was that the then 24-year-old had cammed Fast and Furious 6 at the local Showcase cinema before uploading it to the Internet.
“I was detained for 3 hrs 12 minutes, out of that I was questioned for approximately 40 minutes,” Danks told TorrentFreak at the time. “One police officer and two FACT officers conducted the interview. The police officer sat back and let FACT do all the questioning, so FACT were running the show.”
Danks was eventually released, but in September police were back, this time arresting both his sister and her former boyfriend. New allegations were made, this time in respect of the unauthorized camming and uploading of the movie ‘Epic’.
In March this year Danks told TF that the police weren’t going to take any action against him. However, after previously keeping us updated, Danks went quiet. Today his fate has been revealed.
Following a hearing at Wolverhampton Crown Court, Danks was sentenced to 33 months in prison for recording, uploading and also selling physical copies of Fast and Furious 6.
In Court it was claimed that Danks’ uploading of Fast 6 resulted in more than 700,000 downloads costing Universal Pictures and the wider industry millions of pounds in losses.
It appears that Danks was also very easy to trace. When he contacted TF last year his email address betrayed his online nickname – ‘TheCod3r’ – a handle that is now easily linked to a KickassTorrents upload of the same movie. FACT say it was this username that led them to Danks.
While 33 months is no doubt an extremely harsh sentence, there were important aggravating factors. FACT report that following his arrest in 2013, Danks continued to both sell and distribute illegal copies of movies. He was assisted with uploading by Michael Bell, his sister’s former boyfriend. The Court sentenced Bell to a 12 month community order with 120 hours unpaid work.
Both pleaded guilty to committing offenses under the Fraud Act 2006 and the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988.
Kieron Sharp, Director General of FACT said that his organization is grateful to West Midlands Police for their assistance in bringing Danks and Bell to justice.
“This is an important case and an important sentence. Danks was responsible for recording, uploading and distributing the film and was clearly unconcerned at the time about the consequences of his actions, perhaps believing that the internet gave him anonymity. We at FACT have shown that we will find and identify people committing criminal offenses and ensure that they are properly dealt with through the courts,” Sharp said.
The MPAA’s Chris Marcich said that holding pirates to account is vital if the creative industries are to flourish alongside the development of legal services.
“It is important that those making money on the back of other people’s hard work and creativity, paying nothing back into the creative economy, are held accountable and we welcome today’s verdict,” Marcich said.
“This is one important element of the wider strategy to tackle this issue which also includes educating consumers about legitimate online sources of content through schemes like Creative Content UK, working with advertiser and payment processors to cut off the revenue streams pirate sites rely on and blocking illegal sites through the courts.”
Yet again FACT have another very big headline under their belt which will prove useful in their quest to deter those contemplating a similar course of action to Danks. As previously noted, camming on its own is not considered an offense, but couple it with distribution and selling copies for profit and things can get very serious indeed.