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33 months behind bars for illegal camcording, upload and counterfeit

A man was sentenced today to 33 months imprisonment for recording a blockbuster film in a cinema, uploading it to the internet, and producing and selling copies to the public.

On the 17th May 2013 Philip Danks went to the Showcase cinema in Walsall and used a camcorder to record Fast and Furious 6, the first day it was released anywhere in the world. Danks uploaded this copy of the film onto the internet on the 18th May and the film was subsequently downloaded more than 700,000 times causing millions of pounds of loss to Universal Pictures and the audio-visual industry in the UK. Furthermore, Danks used Facebook to offer copies of the film for sale for £1.50 each, which he advertised alongside other well-known films such as Iron Man 3.

The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) identified Danks by linking him to the online name of the uploader, which was 'TheCod3r'. On one website where the film was available, TheCod3r had written Enjoy the movie, it took me 2 attempts to get this movie for release as my first camcorder went dead (terrible battery life) 40 mins into the film and I had to go back and watch it a second time to get a decent cam with a better camcorder. A watchable copy until something better comes along.

Five days after the recording was made Danks was arrested by West Midlands Police.

The Court heard that despite his arrest Danks continued to copy, sell and distribute illegal copies of films. He also enlisted the help of his sister's ex-boyfriend, Michael Bell, who uploaded films on his behalf. Bell received a 12 month Community Order with 120 hours unpaid work

Both men pleaded guilty to charges of committing offences under the Fraud Act 2006 and the Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988.

On sentencing Danks and Bell, Judge Raynor said the case was unusual because of the presence of so many aggravating factors including that Danks actually cammed the film, it was the first release worldwide and Danks ensured that he also sold physical copies of the film through Facebook. He described the offending as "bold, arrogant and cocksure" and noted that it was a sophisticated operation. Finally, the Judge commented that the real essence of the seriousness of the offending was the multimillion pound loss to the film industry.

Story filed 21.08.14

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