‘Pirate’: Feds Convict Five For Running Illegal Multimillion-Dollar Streaming Service

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A federal court in Las Vegas convicted five suspects of running one of the largest illegal television streaming services in the U.S. since 2007 and raking in millions of dollars at the expense of television program copyright owners, prosecutors announced Thursday.

The court convicted Kristopher Dallmann, Douglas Courson, Felipe Garcia, Jared Jaurequi and Peter Huber, of “conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Nevada. The court also judged Dallman guilty of “two counts of money laundering by concealment and three counts of misdemeanor criminal copyright infringement,” the statement revealed.

The suspects ran Jetflicks, an online, subscription-based streaming service that “reproduced hundreds of thousands of copyrighted television episodes” sourced from pirate websites using automation, prosecutors alleged in court.

The illegally sourced episodes ballooned into “a catalog larger than the combined catalogues of Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, and Amazon Prime,” earning the five suspects millions of dollars obtained from tens of thousands of paid subscribers, the prosecuting office further argued in court.

When complaints from copyright holders and problems with payment platforms erupted, “the defendants tried to disguise Jetflicks as an aviation entertainment company,” said Assistant Director in Charge David Sundberg of the FBI Washington Field Office, according to the prosecuting office’s statement. (RELATED: ‘Cutting-Edge’: Two Brothers Educated In Prestigious University Stole Cryptocurrency Worth $25 Million In 12 Seconds, Feds Allege)

A Jetflicks subscription was one of the cheapest across the U.S. for almost 10 years, costing up to $9.99 every month, and using U.S.- and Canada-based servers and computers, according to WIRED. However, the Motion Picture Association of America reportedly filed a cease and desist notice Nov. 2012 and an undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent masqueraded as a subscriber Dec. 2016, triggering the platform’s downfall.

The FBI found video and torrent files in the tens of thousands, including copies of every Game of Thrones season 7 episode, WIRED reported. The FBI confiscated 33 hard drives, 28 Mac mini computers and dozens of other assorted tablets, computers, phones, thumb drives and equipment, the report noted.

Dallmann faces up to 48 years in prison, while Courson, Garcia, Jaurequi and Huber may spend at most five years in prison, the prosecuting office’s statement noted.

The suspects reportedly will be sentenced at a not-yet-scheduled date.

The case was “another example of our steadfast commitment to combat intellectual property theft and to hold accountable those who violate intellectual property rights laws,” U.S. Attorney Jason M. Frierson for the District of Nevada reportedly said.