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Sky TV is blocking thousands from watching free streams in a landmark crackdown

Sky TV has won a new historic case that means the shows are no longer shown online (Image: SKY)

Sky’s ongoing crackdown on viewers streaming paid content – from Sky Sports, Sky Cinema and Sky exclusive shows, such as The Undoing, Westworld and Game Of Thrones – for free without permission has taken a dramatic new turn. In recent years, successive blocks ordered by the courts have made it more difficult to tune in to premium content without paying for the privilege.

Sky Sports live streams are regularly blocked and UK internet providers have recently been ordered to ban certain movie hosting websites. Residents of the UK have even received letters from the police when illegal activity – such as streaming copyrighted content on movie-sharing platforms – has been detected at their address. The letters warn that legal action will follow if they continue to stream content without permission.

In the latest battle against piracy in the UK, Sky has won a legal victory against a man in Scotland accused of copyright infringement and making money by offering streams to watch exclusive Sky shows on video hosting platforms, such as YouTube and Reddit.

Thousands of people in the UK paid Alex Cherrie to access his YouTube videos, including shows and movies legally available only to those subscribing to Sky Q or Sky’s streaming sister service, NOW.

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The illegal shows, which were accessible through hyperlinks sent to paying subscribers, were categorized with labels, so users simply had to click on the title they wanted to watch.

In a ruling, the Court of Session has issued an interim interdict – a Scottish term to describe a court order – that prevents Alex Cherrie from infringing Sky’s copyright in the future. Failure to abide by the ruling could mean imprisonment for the Scotsman, the court warned.

This historic case means that those who regularly tuned in to watch Cherrie’s deadly broadcasts on YouTube streams are now being banned from watching even more content. Shows offered through Cherrie’s links included Gangs of London, Cop Squad, Thronecast, The Russell Howard Hour, Portrait Artist of The Year, and A League of Their Own.

In her statement, The Hon Lady Wolffe said, “The defender’s activities demonstrate widespread infringement. The defender has more than 51,000 users in the Subreddits and had 95,000 users on the YouTube account. The number of users of the Subreddits continues to grow: between July and November 2020 there was a growth of 17%. The defender’s activities on the two online platforms could have no legitimate purpose other than to profit financially from his 19 repeated copyright infringements. Violation of this volume materially damages the pursuer’s business model. “

Some experts now think that this case could mean that streaming content online without permission could become even more difficult in the future.

Kieron Sharp, ex-police officer and CEO of FACT, said of the case: “This is another milestone in the fight against piracy and will set a positive precedent for future hearings. We’ve seen a significant increase in popular online forums like Reddit being used to illegally stream and pirate content, so it’s encouraging to see a user being held accountable for the illegal sharing of content on the platform for the first time . This is another example of the measures taken against numerous different illegal streaming activities.

“Piracy is not a gray area – it is illegal and so will affect not only consumers but also those who upload content. This case will help consumers understand the very real risks associated with illegal content copying. “

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