Foxtel Welcomes Court Decision and Penalties Imposed on Subscription Television Pirates

SYDNEY, 6 May 2014 Foxtel today welcomed the sentencing of two Sydney men for their role in the provision of unauthorised access to Foxtel services.  The father and son, Michael Scherle, 48 years old and Daniel Albert Clark, 24 years old, were charged with Commonwealth criminal offences relating to the manufacture, distribution and sale of unauthorised decoders and for providing users with access to encoded Foxtel subscription television broadcasts. A Sydney court ordered Scherle to serve a six month gaol term followed by home detention and community service for his role in leading the offences. Clark was also found guilty and was placed on a good behaviour bond for his involvement. A third Sydney man, Haidar Majid Salam Al Baghdadi, 29 years old, is still facing charges for operating a card-sharing network that allegedly allowed 8,000 people across Australia to illegally access Foxtel’s pay television services. Al Baghdadi’s case continues.

These charges were the result of ongoing investigations involving the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Foxtel investigators and Irdeto, a Media Protection, Multiscreen and Revenue Assurance company and anti-piracy expert. The three parties uncovered an organised criminal network committing widespread intellectual property theft of Foxtel services, which led to the arrests last December.

Foxtel’s CEO Richard Freudenstein said, “We welcome the strong message that this court decision sends to would-be criminals and those that decide to take part in these illegally run businesses. Piracy is theft, and it’s illegal. It not only undermines the business models of companies like Foxtel, but of every one of the creative businesses and people who work so hard to supply us with channels, programs, and services. Piracy damages the entire Australian creative and entertainment industry.”

Investigations revealed that as part of the network’s activities, the men were involved in the sale of unauthorised set-top boxes programmed to provide access to stolen pay TV channels through an illegal system that used the Internet to hack into encoded broadcasts. The AFP noted that around ten thousand set top boxes have been sold to consumers who were often unaware that the items they were purchasing were in fact illegal.

Foxtel has a very active investigative team in place that works closely with the AFP and Irdeto to identify people involved in the theft of Foxtel channels and to ensure the full force of the law is applied to protect Foxtel intellectual property.

“Piracy is a growing threat to pay media companies worldwide, and that is why we work closely with customers like Foxtel and local authorities like the AFP to disrupt pirate activity. We do not tolerate criminals that wish to undermine legitimate businesses and we invest resources, time, technology and experienced anti-piracy experts to protect our customers,” said Rob Van Nunen, Senior Director of Special Projects, Irdeto.

Foxtel looks forward to working with the Attorney-General’s Department and the rest of the Australian media industry to address online piracy in Australia over the coming months.

Suspected piracy can be reported to ASTRA’s hotline – 1800 428 888.

About Foxtel

Foxtel is one of Australia’s most progressive and dynamic media companies, directly employing around 2,500 people, and delivering a diverse subscription television service over cable, satellite and broadband distribution. We offer a better entertainment experience every day to each one of our 2.5 million subscribing homes through delivery of new and inspiring programming across all genres, the world’s most popular channel brands, and investment in high quality local content. As constant champions of innovation we have brought customers the iQ personal digital recorder, Australia’s largest HD offering, the Foxtel Go App for tablets and mobile devices, and our new internet TV service, Foxtel Play. Foxtel is owned by Telstra Corporation Limited ACN 051 775 556 (50%) and News Corporation (50%). foxtel.com.au