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German court confirms conviction of Sky card sharing pirate

The German appeal court of Celle has confirmed the legal assessment of the district court of Verden in the trial against a Sky Deutschland card sharing pirate.

The district court imposed a 1-year prison sentence on probation on a 53-year old man from federal state Lower Saxony because of computer fraud in conjunction with circumventing technical protection measures in 65 cases in February 2016.

The appeal court confirmed the conviction for computer fraud following the appeal lodged by the defendant against the lower court’s verdict. This marks the first time that a higher regional court has confirmed that card sharing constitutes computer fraud. The decision is final and non-appealable.

The judges considered it to be evident that card sharing resembles an illegal usage of data leading to a direct financial loss at Sky Deutschland.

The appeal court, however, didn’t confirm the criminal offences of spying out data and circumventing technical protection measures the district court took into account in its verdict. The judges therefore submitted the case back to the lower court for reassessment of the sentence.

The defendant had been illegally distributing Sky Deutschland’s offers through the internet since spring 2009 by operating a card sharing server and selling access to it. This enabled third parties to watch Sky Deutschland’s programmes without paying subscription fees to the pay-TV broadcaster.

The close collaboration between Sky Deutschland, encryption system provider Nagravision and the Verden district court’s central department for the combat of information and communication crime as well as the investigative work by the public prosecution office of Verden enabled the legal proceedings.

“This decision by the appeal court of Celle is a success for Sky. It is also a clear signal to all criminals seeking to enrich themselves at the cost of our company and our honest customers by selling our exclusive content,” said Dr Andreas Rudloff, vice president platform services & security at Sky Deutschland.

“Card-sharing is not a petty crime, but computer fraud that will be prosecuted by the authorities and can be punished with a prison sentence,” he added. “In the interest of our over 4.6 million customers, we will continue to enforce the prosecution of such activities in collaboration with the relevant authorities and our partners.”

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