A British man has been jailed for almost three years after illegally recording a movie in a cinema and then distributing it online. 25-year-old Philip Danks was actually the first person in the world to record and seed Fast & Furious 6 for download via torrent sites - a fact that he was particularly proud of, boasting to his friends on Facebook: "Seven billion people and I was the first. F*** you Universal Pictures."
Danks sat at the back of a cinema in Walsall, United Kingdom, on May 17th, 2013 - the day of the movie's release in the UK - and recorded the movie covertly, before returning home to upload a copy to the web, tagging it with his online handle 'Thecod3r'.
At his trial, the court was told that Universal Pictures, the studio behind the film, had established a special team to identify online piracy around what it considered to be an important and valuable movie release. As Sky News reports, the investigators later discovered that his handle matched that of a profile on dating website Plenty of Fish, which belonged to Danks, and which ultimately allowed them to join the dots that led to his arrest on May 23rd.
He pleaded guilty to three charges of distributing pirate copies of films, and was sentenced to 33 months in prison. The court's Sentencing Recorder, Keith Raynor, said: "This was bold, arrogant and cocksure offending. Your approach to the film industry was made clear in the posting you made on Facebook two days after your arrest. I accept the personal profit was modest but the real seriousness of this case is the loss caused to the film industry as a whole."
Danks sold copies of the film for £1.50 GBP (around $2.50 USD / €1.90 EUR) each, making around £1,000 ($1,650 / €1,250) in total. But the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) argued that Universal Studios had lost far more, claiming that the 779,000 copies that had been downloaded resulted in an "estimated loss to the industry... conservatively estimated at £2.3m" ($3.8m / €2.9m).
Fast & Furious 6 was one of the top-three most pirated movies of last year, with an estimated 7.9m copies downloaded - just behind Django Unchained and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in second and first places respectively.
Source: Sky News