Sky Hands Man an £85,000 Bill After Boxing Match is Streamed on Facebook

By Tom Pritchard on at

There are a lot of consequences for piracy, though these days they tend to be aimed at the people who make it possible rather than those of us who take part. People hosting servers, managing streams, and so on. Rights holders naturally don't like them, so do whatever they can to punish them once they get caught.

The latest example is Sky, which sent an £85,000 bill to a man who claims a drunk friend used his iPad to stream the Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko on Facebook Live last April.

Craig Foster, from Scarborough, had paid the £19.95 charge to watch the fight on Sky Sports, but almost as soon as the fight began his friend pointed his iPad at the screen and began streaming. Over 4,000 people apparently watched the fight over Facebook, and using the account number watermark on screen Sky was able to work out who he was. Sky then cancelled his account, and sent him an £85,000 bill for lost revenue.

Foster claims he didn't really think anything of what his friend was doing (which I assume led to a fairly rubbish picture quality) until Sky contacted him a few days later. He claims that Sky have demanded the names and addresses of all the people watching the fight at his house, but he's refused to grass them up.

He's also had letters from a legal firm representing Sky, demanding £5,000 to avoid going to court for the full amount (which sounds an awful lot like copyright trolling) and an apology that will be used in "education materials concerning unlawful redistribution of programmes".

Foster has apologised and admitted the wrongdoing, but insists that he's being made an example of - particularly since he didn't make any money from the stream. He apparently panicked and agreed to the initial demand after only being given 24 hours to respond, but now intends to fight the claim in court.

Neil Parkes, from lawfirm Foot Anstey which represents Sky, told the Sunday Mirror:

"Mr Foster broke the law. He has acknowledged his wrongdoing, apologised and signed a legally binding agreement to pay a sum of £5,000 to Sky."

Following last year's changes to the Digital Economy Act, the punishment for facilitating piracy is up to 10 years in prison and unlimited fine.

While the situation is obviously still ongoing, the fact that Sky would be willing to knock £80,000 off the fine so easily is a little suspicious. It also makes me wonder whether the company can actually prove the 4,000 people who watched the pirate stream would have paid for it in the first place - seeing as how they would have only started watching after the fight began. It would also only be lost revenue if those viewers were in the UK, or some other region where Sky had exclusive broadcast rights.

We'll just have to see how this turns out. [Sunday Mirror via Metro]

Image: Karl-Ludwig Poggemann/Flickr

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