French court orders group to pay €7m for sports piracy sites


Alex Baldwin

French court orders group to pay €7m for sports piracy sites

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A group of three men responsible for running illegal sports streaming sites have been ordered to pay €7 million ($8.3 million) in damages to Canal+, beIN Sports and RMC Sport by the Rennes Criminal Court.

The group owned a collection of around 20 illegal streaming sites, which rehosted unlicensed streams of sports content from the subscription sites. The re-streams would feature advertisements paid for by nearly 50 different agencies, generating nearly €230,000 in revenue for the site owners, according to Le Monde.

The nine busiest websites managed to attract more than 7.5 million unique visitors from 2014 to 2017.

The Association Against Audiovisual Piracy (ALPA), Canal+, beIN Sports and RMC Sport filed a joint complaint against the websites, leading to five men, including the owners and administrators of the websites,to be apprehended in June 2018, according to TorrentFreak.

Plaintiffs petitioned for a sentence of up to ten years in prison. In June 2020, the group was found guilty and the group leader sentenced to a 12-month prison sentence.

The hearing in January 2021 saw the group ordered to pay €7 million in damages, far lower than €91 million in damages claimed by the channels.

BeIN Sports will receive €3.94 million, Canal+ €2.75 million and RMC Sport approximately €600,000.

“It is a satisfactory decision in the sense that the damages are extremely reduced compared to the sums requested. However, we remain on extremely high sentences,” said Katell Plançon, counsel for one of the defendants referred to as ‘Franck C’, reported Le Monde.

“Whether we are at one, two, three or four million, it does not change much, because these are people who do not have the means to repay," added LBP Avocat member Hélène Laudic-Baron.

ALPA is a French IP watchdog founded in 1985 representing audiovisual and film industry professionals in fights against IP theft.

WIPR has contacted ALPA for comment.

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Canal+, beIN Sports, RMC Sports, ALPA