In May 2011, police reported seizing £83,000 and computer equipment following a raid in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. The operation was a culmination of an investigation carried out by the Hollywood-funded anti-piracy group Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT).
By the end of the month more details began to emerge, with TorrentFreak sources confirming that an operator of video streaming site known as ‘FastPassTV’ had been arrested.
With hundreds of thousands of daily visitors the site was a significant player in the streaming market. However, FastPassTV did not store any content of its own, instead linking to movies hosted elsewhere.
“Fast Pass TV does not host, store, or distribute any of the videos listed on the site and only link to user submitted content that is freely available on the Internet,” a notice on the website read.
Somewhat typically the case dragged on through the legal system and it took more than four years to come to court. However, the case was more complex than it first appeared.
At his arraignment in February 2015, Paul Mahoney from Carnhill, Londonderry, was not only charged with offenses connected with FastPassTV but also BedroomMedia, a discussion and linking forum he also operated. It’s alleged that the man generated £82,390 in advertising revenue from the criminal operation of both sites.
Mahoney was also charged with two further offenses of conspiring with individuals known online as ‘Hunter Grubbs’ and ‘ADigitalOrange’ to defraud the movie industry. The 28-year-old pleaded not guilty to all charges and was bailed to appear at a later date.
This week, however, Mahoney was back in court with an apparent change of heart, pleading guilty to all four charges. In what’s being described as the first prosecution of its type in Northern Ireland, Mahoney was re-arraigned Monday.
He pleaded guilty to a charge that between April 2008 and May 2011 he conspired with others to operate websites which allow the public to view copyrighted movies without permission from rightsholders.
Mahoney also pleaded guilty to a charge of generating £82,390 in advertising revenue between April 2010 and April 2013 from this websites FastPassTV and BedroomMedia.
Finally, the 28-year-old pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiring with ‘Hunter Grubbs’ and ‘ADigitalOrange’ between May 2011 and April 2013.
“Paul Mahoney operated websites over a number of years which knowingly provided illegal access to thousands of films, generating significant income for himself and causing the film industry millions of pounds of loses,” Kieron Sharp, Director General of FACT, informs TorrentFreak.
Unusually, however, there will be no claim for compensation. FACT hopes that Mahoney’s prosecution alone will send a clear message to others thinking of embarking on the same line of business.
“Websites of this kind cause untold harm to the UK’s creative industries. We hope that this prosecution will serve as a deterrent to others engaging in this type of criminality, and look forward to Mr Mahoney’s sentencing on 25th August,” Sharp concludes.