5 Mar, 2024 @ 11:10
2 mins read

IPTV crackdown in Spain: First-ever sentence for pirate TV sees company fined €670,000 and its employees up to €7,000 each

A PONTEVEDRA court has become the first in Spain to convict a company for proving pirate television services by selling decoders.

Engel Systems S.L and its directors were found guilty of breaching copyright with the sale of the units.

Despite publicity for some years of cases being brought over pirate television, it is the first time that a firm has been convicted for selling pirate IPTV services, since previously only private individuals have been charged.


The conviction affects seven company staff, including its managers, who received fines ranging from €540 to €7,290, depending on what role they had in the operation.

The company itself has been a €673,000 penalty plus 397 US dollars for the civil liability derived from the crime.

Engel is also is prohibited from re-selling set-top boxes in the future, while the directors were also disqualified for a period of seven years.

The private defendants also received prison sentences that have been commuted for having paid the amounts claimed and other mitigating factors such as the long duration of the trial, taking over seven years until the judgment, which is final and cannot be appealed.

Engel Systems operated for six years and evolved its illegal business.

It started off with card-sharing piracy, i.e. offering illegal connections to pay tv systems through a legitimate subscriber card.

They then evolved into IPTV- the main piracy method these days, where content sold to customers was accessed via the internet.

This way of accessing content is especially widespread among young people and there are operators that even charge their own monthly subscriptions- well below the official rate.

According to La Liga, at the beginning of the current Spanish football season season there were one million pirate connections of this nature, leading to bigger financial investments to try and locate and then take down the pirates.

The complaint that brought down the organization was made by EGEDA(a rights society for audiovisual producers), the broadcaster Mediapro and subscription service Movistar Plus+.

On order of the court, the entities received an initial payment of €97,102 euros in the case of the first two and €129,470 euros to Movistar, to which will be added the payment of the rest of the penalty in 23 monthly instalments.

According to the judge, from the end of 2010 until May 2016, Engel sold set-top boxes that broadcast or played pirated content thanks to a network of servers located in Lithuania and Germany, in the first instance, and then from a data centre in Malaga and later in the company’s own warehouse in Madrid.

Not content with supply copyrighted material, the company would close down every few months, forcing subscribers to buy a new set-top box, which resulted in extra revenue for Engel.

The company installed a file in the set-top boxes that allowed access to Movistar, Bein Sport and Sky Sports channels, as well as films and series without any authorisation.

The mechanism scam worked for six years until, on May 18, 2016, the police broke into the company’s premises in Malaga, Madrid and Barcelona and those of several partners that the company had in Lugo, Rivas-Vaciamadrid and Palma de Mallorca.

Subsequently, searches were carried out in Germany and Lithuania to dismantle the company’s servers and several addresses were searched where the files that were used to hack the signal of the affected broadcasters were found.

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