Thai court crackdown on pirate English Premier League matches

The English Premier League (EPL) owns various rights, most importantly the broadcast rights to EPL games around the world. A key issue is preventing pirated live broadcasts of the games.  

In Thailand the authorities filed a series of criminal charges for copyright infringement and operating a business illegally without case against a group operating a pirated match streaming service called ThaiExpat.tv. ThaiExpat.tv used a series of domains around the SEA region, first located in Hong Kong, then also found in Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Malaysia to show live matches as well as offer a full suite of British TV content, including BBC, ITV and Sky programming. They also sold illegal streaming devices, which were preloaded with apps enabling pirate broadcasts of Premier League football.

The charges were:

  • Copyright Act - infringement via making a broadcast available for commercial gain (s29(3) & s69), and circumventing technological protection measures
  • Computer Related Crime Act – interception of data (s8)
  • Broadcasting & Television Act – operating a broadcast business without permission (s66) and importing, selling, offering to sell or installing set top boxes for subscription broadcasts (s70)
  • Foreign Business Act – operating a business not permitted for foreigners

The case was heard in the Bangkok IP/IT court following a Department of Special Investigation Technology and Cyber Crime Bureau raid in 2017. The individuals operating the pirate site were two Britons and a Thai woman. One British man originally arrested at the raid subsequently jumped bail and along with other individuals, is being sought by Thai police.  Two defendants plead guilty and the case finally reached sentencing last week.

On 29th November the IP/IT court sentenced the two defendants a British man and his Thai wife to fines of 3 million baht as well as 2 and 1 year suspended jail sentences. They were required to hand over 7 million baht in cash found in their possession at the raid and pay damages totaling 15million baht. These are huge sums, which illustrate the amount of money IP crime can earn and in this case the severe penalties it can attract. Several of the group's foreign members remain on the run. 

Rouse acted for the English Premier League.