Pirate TV dealer gets one year jail sentence

A satellite television dealer convicted of selling unauthorised MultiChoice Africa smart cards has received a one year jail sentence from the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance.

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By  Marcus Webb Published  March 31, 2003

A satellite television dealer convicted of selling unauthorised MultiChoice Africa smart cards has received a one year jail sentence from the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance.

“This judgement by the Dubai Courts sets a clear precedent for the Middle East.” says Scott Butler, chief executive of the Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAA) whose work helped to secure the conviction. “Any individual found in possession of a MultiChoice Africa smart card can now expect to face a sentence, a fine, imprisonment and deportation.”

Investigators identified the satellite TV dealer as one of the primary distributors of MultiChoice Africa smart cards into the UAE market. Frikkie Jonker, MultiChoice Africa’s anti-piracy enforcement expert, liased with the Dubai Police and the AAA to assist in verifying the unauthorised smart cards.

“MultiChoice Africa will forensically track the details of any MultiChoice Africa smart cards in the Middle East, including the UAE, and systematically cut off viewer authorisation,” he says. “I urge anyone with a MultiChoice Africa smart card in the Emirates to request a return of their subscription fee from their unauthorised distributor and to register their details with the anti-piracy hotline — 800.4332 — otherwise they will lose their money and their television signal.”

The AAA orchestrated the raid on the dealer through the Dubai Police and the pirate was criminally charged and arrested. MultiChoice Africa and the AAA continued to liase with the public prosecutor throughout the litigation. The conviction tops off an impressive year for the AAA, which saw the alliance, with assistance from the Dubai Police and the Ministry of Information, successfully raid a pirate cable operator distributing pay-TV channels to more than 3,000 homes in Karama, Dubai. The association also aided the Ministry of Information to raid 12 hotels, bars and coffee shops in Dubai who were flouting broadcast regulations by showing television channels, and particularly sporting events, without the proper public broadcast licenses from the television networks.

“The UAE is the leading country in the region in enforcing intellectual copyright laws in accordance with the World Trade Organisation,” says Butler. “With copyright infringement precedents being set it is clear that the Ministry of Information, Dubai Police and the criminal courts will not hesitate to prosecute law-breakers and push for the most severe punishments in accordance with the local laws.”

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