In June 2011, the biggest ever operation aimed at tackling online movie piracy took place in Europe. The target for police in Germany, Spain, France, and the Netherlands was movie-streaming portal Kino.to and its affiliates.
More than a dozen people were arrested and since then various individuals have been brought to justice. The latest to face punishment is the site’s founder.
Known only as Dirk B due to German privacy laws which protect the identities of suspected criminals, the 39-year-old faced an extended stay in prison after prosecutors requested an 11 year sentence.
However, after cooperating with authorities and confessing to a sample 1.1 million instances of copyright infringement and being responsible for a file-hosting service linked to Kino.to, the court decided to hand down a much reduced sentence.
According to Deutsche Welle, District Court judge Karsten Nickel described the case as the “most serious” copyright breach ever to come before the courts in Germany. He went on to hand Dirk B a 4.5 year jail sentence.
The prosecution said that the operators of Kino.to generated huge profits through advertising and so-called “subscription trap” schemes. As part of his plea bargain, Dirk B agreed to hand over around $4.7m of the claimed $8m he made in revenue through his Spanish advertising company.
Dirk B is the 6th person to be sentenced in the Kino.to case.
In December 2011, 33-year-old web designer Marcus V. was handed 2.5 years in prison for his role in the site. A week later 27-year-old Martin S. – reportedly the main admin of Kino.to and brother-in-law of Dirk B. – received a 3 year sentence.
Later in December an unemployed IT assistant received 1 year 9 months probation after he confessed to uploading pirate movies and TV shows to Kino.to servers between June 2009 to July 2011.
A week later a 47-year-old server operator was sentenced to 3 years and 5 months in prison after being found guilty of storing more than 10,700 movies for paid subscription access.
In April this year, Kino.to’s 29-year-old lead programmer was sentenced to three years and ten months in prison.