Criminal Copyright Defence

Copyright as a concept, supported by legal sanction, exists to promote and incentivise creative human activities. 

In certain circumstances it is a crime to breach copyright.  We have substantial experience in dealing with such crimes.  

By way of example the Premier League deliberately attach logos to the recordings of football matches to create a copyright in the moving pictures and sell the recordings to the likes of Sky and Sky’s competitors abroad.  We have represented defendants who have sold or advertised devices intending to circumvent the technological measures imposed by Sky and the Premier League together. 

Those two entities prefer not to bring prosecutions in their own name but instead bring the prosecutions through either a company called The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) set up in effect for this purpose or through local trading standards departments sometimes called “Scambusters”. 

The law and indeed the technical issues in these cases are complex and it is a specialist subject in which we claim expertise to unravel the facts and get at the truth. There are complicated jurisdictional issues in a local authority for example through their trading standards department bringing a prosecution on behalf of another particularly outside their own boundary. 

In addition there are jurisdictional issues relating to international boundaries.   The devices designed to circumvent technological measures are often called IPTV boxes which is said circumvent copyright and thereby commit a crime under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988.

The most likely defendants in these cases are pubs and clubs in the UK and where it is alleged that they themselves were misled as to the honesty or otherwise of the defendants’ actions. Sometimes local authorities through their trading standards department bring prosecutions for fraud.  

Whilst in reality the interested parties in these cases are Sky Television and the Premier League the proceedings are often brought by local authority trading standards departments as though they were the losing party. 

IPTV boxes are in effect decoder device boxes which enable the downloading of premier league football matches via the internet.

It is important for defendants that their lawyer is able to understand the technical side of these cases and to that extent it is important to have good relations with expert witnesses in this field.

We are  hugely experienced, capable and have an outstanding track record of success. If you are involved in a copyright case, please contact our Regulatory & White Collar Crime defence team as soon as possible.



  • John Ellwood
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