Liverpool Man Sentenced for Selling ‘Pirate’ Firesticks on Facebook

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Earlier today, a 41-year-old man from Liverpool received a two-year suspended prison sentence for selling IPTV subscriptions and 'fully loaded' Firesticks. The man, who used Facebook and WhatsApp to facilitate the sales, pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court.

fireplaceIn recent years, legal video and sports streaming services have flourished around the world.

At the same time, millions of people are streaming from unauthorized sources, often through perfectly legal streaming devices including Amazon’s Firesticks.

Most people know that the subscription services that typically arrive pre-installed on the devices are unauthorized. However, with such significant discounts available, millions can’t resist these offers.

The demand has created an entire new industry with a few big players at the top, making millions. Further down the food chain, there is a wide variety of subscription resellers who take a cut as well, running their own ‘shops’.

Court Sentences IPTV Firestick Seller

The latter description applies to Mr. O’Donnell, a 41-year-old man from the North West of England who was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court today. The defendant, who pleaded guilty, received a two-year suspended prison sentence and was ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

As often seen in UK cases, the sentence is for “supplying” content under the Fraud Act. In addition, the defendant violated the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988 by “providing, promoting and marketing in the course of a business, a service designed to circumvent technological measures.

O’Donnell promoted and sold the ‘fully loaded’ Firesticks though direct contact, Facebook and WhatsApp, delivering some of the purchases in person. After an investigation by local anti-piracy group FACT, he was eventually arrested by Merseyside Police on July 4th last year.

According to FACT, these unauthorized IPTV subscriptions included broadcasts of Sky, TNT Sports, and possibly others.


The Liverpool man doesn’t seem to be a key player in the broader pirate IPTV ecosystem, but still generated £130,000 in revenue. How much work that involved isn’t clear, but FACT mentions that the Firesticks were sold ‘over a number of years’.

Not all of the revenue came from selling modified Firesticks. The defendant also sold standalone IPTV subscriptions, priced between £40 and £85 for an annual plan.

How much profit the operation made is unclear. According to information available to us at the time of writing, O’Donnell is not required to pay any costs to the victims due to his personal circumstances.

Sticky Message

All in all, both FACT and Merseyside Police are pleased with the outcome of this case. They hope that it sends a clear message to others operating in the same line of business.

“The message is very clear: if you sell a device that provides access to content that is not licensed to you or owned by you, you could face criminal investigation, prosecution and a conviction,” FACT CEO Kieron Sharp comments.

Detective Inspector Steve Frame at Merseyside Police adds more cautionary words for pirate IPTV peddlers.

“We will use all available powers and continue to work with FACT to identify anyone else who is involved in this form of criminality and put them before the courts,” Frame says, commenting on the news.

This certainly isn’t the first IPTV-related sentencing in the UK; time will tell if the message eventually sticks.

Finally, the FACT press release prominently refers to the activities as an “illegal Firestick operation“. However, it is worth clarifying that Firesticks themselves are perfectly legal and are still on sale at Amazon.

Update: Responding to our request for information, Merseyside Police confirmed that “O’Donnell was NOT made to pay any costs as part of his sentencing”.


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