It was one of the most popular illegal streaming sites in France. Its fugitive administrator was heavily condemned by the Nanterre court.
A 41-year-old man was sentenced this Monday in his absence, in Nanterre (Hauts-de-Seine), to two years in prison and more than 80 million euros in damages for having administered a streaming site illegal, we learned Tuesday from corroborating sources.
The defendant, on the run, was found guilty of "counterfeiting" and "concealed work". He will have to pay 83.6 million euros in damages to the civil parties, two professional unions, Disney, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros. and the Society of Authors, Composers and Music Publishers (Sacem) in particular.
The offender managed a film distribution platform called "Streamiz", the second most popular streaming site in France in 2011 with an average of 250,000 unique visitors per day, said the lawyer for Sacem. The site, which has since been closed, offered around 40,000 films, some of which had not yet been released on DVD and which had a total of 500 million views, according to the same source.
After a complaint from the National Federation of Film Distributors (FNDF) in December 2009, investigators had found the trace of the defendant in 2011 in Hauts-de-Seine, according to a source familiar with the matter.
A defendant on the run
The suspect was arrested in October 2011 as he left his home in Montrouge with, in his backpack, nearly 30,000 euros in cash concealed in socks.
Summoned by the examining magistrate, the defendant did not appear. He was still at large on Monday when he was sentenced. The court upheld the effects of the arrest warrant issued against him.
The investigation revealed that the defendant had earned in just under two years around 150,000 euros in advertising revenue, and documents showing the existence of accounts abroad were found, according to the same source.
A condemnation of "pirates" for example
His conviction allows "to mark the spirits and to show the concrete importance of the damage caused by these sites", explained Me Christian Soulié, lawyer of the civil parties. His conviction could only be "the first step" as the defendant was not present or represented by a lawyer, he added.
"It is a patent case of commercial counterfeiting" based on a "very structured" system, declared David El Sayegh, secretary-general of Sacem. His conviction "sends a very clear message: there will be no impunity for pirates," he added.