‘Billie the Bookie’ Receives Prison Sentence for Copyright Offence
A UK-based man who traded as “Billie the Bookie” has been given a ten-month prison term for selling illegal TV devices after having been sentenced for the same crime in 2016. William Marston, who traded as Billie the Bookie, appeared at Norwich Crown Court on 4th May 2018 after pleading guilty to selling unauthorised decoders, in contravention of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. Marston had previously been handed a 12-month sentence suspended for two years at Norwich Crown Court on 28th October 2016, after admitting to selling unauthorised decoders adapted to enable access to encrypted transmissions between December 2013 and April 2016. However, in early 2017 investigators from The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) discovered that Marston was still offending and breaching the terms of his sentence.
Despite his previous conviction, Marston had continued to advertise and sell unauthorised decoders that allowed illegal access to sports content such as horse and greyhound racing, aimed at the online and retail betting markets. Previously, Marston had operated openly online selling illegal set-top boxes via eBay. After his first conviction, however, he resumed his activities using more sophisticated technology and also attempting to avoid detection by selling via private Facebook groups.
A second investigation was launched by FACT and Norfolk Police and on 8th August 2017. Marston was re-arrested at his home in Norwich where he had installed multiple satellite dishes in his garden. He was summonsed to appear on 14th February 2018 and pleaded guilty on 28th March 2018.
General Counsel of SIS said “We are very pleased that Marston has once again been brought to justice and that a custodial sentence has been imposed. We are particularly gratified that the court recognised that Marston’s actions undermined the entire system of how betting is licensed and racing is funded, and that the sentence highlights that fact that the courts are prepared to treat copyright infringement as theft. SIS has an obligation to its customers and rights holders alike to ensure that the value of content remains undiluted, and will not hesitate to prosecute offenders in the future.
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