UK man sentenced to three years for pirating 'Fast & Furious 6'

The illegally recorded film cost Universal Pictures over $4 million.


An English man who illegally recorded, uploaded, and sold the film "Fast & Furious 6" was sentenced to nearly three years in prison on Thursday.

Philip Danks of Walsall, West Midlands was handed down 33 months after pleading guilty to three counts of distributing pirated films.

Danks, 25, recorded the "Fast & Furious 6" with his video camera while inside a movie theatre on the day of the film's UK release, May 17, 2013. He uploaded the pirated film, and received £1,000, or about $1,650, from sales on Facebook and through personal sales. In total, the film was downloaded 779,000 times. The piracy cost Universal Pictures an estimated £2.3m, or $4.1 million, Yahoo! News reports.

Federation Against Copyright Theft prosecutor Ari Alibhai described the enormity of the loss.

"The film was Universal Picture's most significant release of that year, with both the biggest production costs and expected revenue," he said. "The estimated loss to the industry caused by the defendant's actions is conservatively estimated at £2.3m, but he did not receive money from the online distribution."

The studio's webwatch team investigated the illegal downloads, and noticed the tag "Thecod3r" on the film. The username matched Danks' profile on dating website Plenty of Fish, and he was arrested on May 23, 2013.

Two days later, he bragged on Facebook about being the first person in the world to record and distribute a pirated copy of the film.

"Seven billion people and I was the first. F*** you Universal Pictures," he wrote.

Danks also sold a dozen other pirated films after his arrest. Sentencing Recorder Keith Raynor called his actions egregious.

"This was bold, arrogant and cocksure offending," he told the defendant.

"Your approach to the film industry was made clear in the posting you made on Facebook two days after your arrest. I accept the personal profit was modest, but the real seriousness of this case is the loss caused to the film industry as a whole."

Alibhai explained the motive for the crime.

"The first person with a pirated version attracts much kudos," the prosecutor said. "He wanted recognition from the community."

The next film in the series, "Fast & Furious 7," will be released in the U.S. on April 3, 2015.

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