Sky Deutschland wins piracy case

Awarded $2.8 million in damages, two pirates jailed


COLOGNE, Germany -- News Corp's German pay TV group Sky Deutschland has won a legal battle against Belgian pirates, who had been exporting unlicensed decoder smart cards for Sky's set-top boxes to Germany and Austria.

A Belgian court awarded Sky €2 million ($2.8 million) in damages and sentenced two of the pirates to jail time -- 18 months and 8 months respectively. Two more of the accused received suspended sentences. A third was acquitted.

Sky hailed the ruling as the first piracy case of its kind resulting in both a severe prison sentence combined with what the company called "a realistic level of damages."

The court found that the accused were part of a criminal gang which sold more than 5,700 illegal smart cards to German and Austrian customers, netting more than $600,000. Combined with software available online, the cards could be used to crack encryption software and watch Sky's pay TV service for free.