Mar 20, 2019

PIPCU investigation leads to prison time for UK pirates

Beginning in 2013, PIPCU (the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit) investigated the theft of the Expendables 3 movie in advance of its Hollywood release. That investigation took some time, but in 2014 it revealed that two arrests had been made, now thought to have been Steven Pegram and Alan Stephenson.

The men were released pending further enquiry, and the case was eventually past up to the Crown Prosecution Service and convictions were sought against both Pegram and Stephenson as well as Mark Rollin and Paul Taylor. Each were accused of various piracy offences of blockbuster films including X-Men: Days of Future Past and Godzilla.

Rollin and Stephenson pleaded guilty early on in the process, and Pelgram and Taylor also pleaded guilty later on, in December 2018. The offence to which they all pleaded guilty was conspiracy to defraud the copyright owners of the various films they had copied and distributed.

They were sentenced on Monday of this week. Their sentences are:-

Pelgram – 4.5 years imprisonment

Rollin – 3 years imprisonment

Taylor & Stephenson – 2 years imprisonment suspended for 2 years.

Following the verdicts, the CPS released a brief statement that "These defendants set up and ran a site which allowed users to download films for free via BitTorrent…. All of them had clear knowledge of what the site was used for and were well aware they were breaching the copyright of the production companies".

PIPCU will rightly hold up this conviction as a warning to other would-be pirates that are still operating in the UK and beyond. While there seems to be little appetite amongst the authorities or policymakers to seek convictions of individuals consuming pirated content, the crackdown on distributors is sure to be great comfort to the creative digital industries in an age of widespread piracy.

If you have any questions on the above, please do not hesitate to contact the team at McDaniel & Co. on 0191 281 4000 or


in: Copyright, News

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