x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Abu Dhabi police question man over alleged TV piracy

Police question a man for allegedly sharing TV shows illegally, attracting a potential fine of nearly $1 million. 

A man facing a US$1 million (Dh3.6m) fine for the alleged piracy of TV shows has been questioned by Abu Dhabi police.

The unnamed man is accused of helping "millions" of computer users illegally download shows owned by the Dubai-based broadcaster OSN.

He has been questioned by Abu Dhabi Police and confessed his crimes, according to a statement issued by OSN.

The man, an OSN subscriber, allegedly set up a website that facilitated the illegal sharing of files.

OSN said that it identified 802 counts of piracy violations, which it said attract a minimum penalty of $1,200 each under its subscriber terms and conditions.

"The total amount of contractual damages reached $962,400 which the pirate was asked to compensate OSN in violations of his OSN subscription contract," the company said.

The Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAA) filed a complaint with Abu Dhabi CID on behalf of the broadcaster, OSN said.

"Following questioning by the authorities, the internet pirate made a full confession and agreed to a settlement to avoid any further legal action leading to imprisonment," OSN said. "The undisclosed settlement amount serves as a deterrent warning to other offenders who are involved in illegal downloading."

Piracy is rife in the Middle East region, but perpetrators are rarely brought to justice.

Ali Ajouz, a media consultant based in the UAE, said earlier this year that the Arab pay-TV industry loses up to $500 million a year because of people choosing to receive cheaper, illegal pirate broadcasts.

"It's crucial to remind people what they're doing is illegal and highly damaging. Piracy threatens the whole entertainment industry and costs companies like ours billions," David Butorac, the chief executive of OSN said in a statement.

bflanagan@thenational.ae