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Wed 21 Dec 2011 11:42 AM

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UAE internet pirate faces $1m fine for illegal TV downloads

Emirati confesses to helping 'millions' of users to download subscription-only OSN content

UAE internet pirate faces $1m fine for illegal TV downloads
OSN subscription terms and conditions stipulate a minimum penalty of $1,200 per piracy act

An Emirati internet pirate apprehended by Abu Dhabi police for downloading and distributing subscription TV content faces a fine of nearly $1m, it was confirmed on Tuesday.

The Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAA) filed a complaint on behalf of pay-TV network OSN with Abu Dhabi police and a local Emirati citizen was arrested on 802 counts of piracy violations.

When questioned by authorities, the internet pirate confessed to operating a website which helped millions of computer users to illegally download subscription-only OSN content.

OSN subscription terms and conditions stipulate a minimum penalty of $1,200 per piracy act. “The total amount of contractual damages reached $962,400 which the pirate was asked to compensate OSN in violations of his OSN subscription contract,” the TV network said in a statement.

“I have been ignorant of the consequences in violating the law, and now realise the seriousness of my actions after being taken to the police station. I’m grateful to OSN for settling the case,” the internet pirate, named a MM, said in a statement.

The industry loses “tens of millions of dollars” per year due to the activities of pirates in the region and the cost goes beyond just the economic losses, David Butorac, CEO of OSN, told Arabian Business.

“Piracy has an extremely negative impact on the creative and entertainment community, and is a barrier to job creation. Our region is home to a large population of youth with thriving creative ambitions - what incentive do these young content creators have to produce new innovative shows if their product and lively hood is periodically stolen?” he added.

Authorities are increasingly clamping down on copyright piracy in the UAE as last month an internet pirate was convicted of setting up a website offering modified Xbox 360 consoles to play pirated games and who also sold pirated Xbox 360 games.

In a landmark case, internet pirate was sentenced to three months imprisonment by the Court of First Instance in Dubai for copyright infringement and the illegal modification of the Xbox 360 consoles.

“This recent action shows the effectiveness of government-coordinated operations against internet sharing profiteers,” Scott Butler, CEO of AAA, said of the recent moves.

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