Illegal Movie Streaming Sites Convicted in Uruguay
In an unprecedented case, the administrators of the illegal websites PELISPEDIA have been convicted and sentenced to three years and four months in Uruguay. These pirate streaming sites, namely pelispedia.tv, pelisplus.tv, and pelispedia.org, provided unauthorized access to movies and TV series, infringing upon Intellectual Property rights. Internet users were able to freely stream or download copyrighted content without proper authorization or payment.
How Did It Work?
The movies and series available on PELISPEDIA were stored on cloud servers, known as “cyberlockers,” or on their own servers. Users could easily access the content without any payment. The administrators of PELISPEDIA monetized the site by incorporating advertisements. To watch a movie or series, users were required to click on specific parts of the page, which triggered the display of pop-up ads. Additionally, the administrators charged a fee to other servers for each reproduction of the illegal content.
PELISPEDIA acted as a publisher, collaborating with advertisement intermediation companies called “ad networks.” These networks made agreements with advertisers and received payment for campaigns that guaranteed a certain number of views or clicks on the ads. The administrators of PELISPEDIA received a portion of these profits for each advertisement clicked or viewed.
Steps of the Case
1. Legal Arguments
The criminal complaint against the administrators of PELISPEDIA was based on Article 46 Lit. A of Law N°. 9.739. This law stipulates a prison sentence of three months to three years for anyone who publicly distributes transmissions without written authorization from the owner, for personal profit or to cause unjustified damage. The administrators of PELISPEDIA were found guilty of making copyrighted digital content available to the public without proper authorization, resulting in financial gain and unjustified damages.
2. Search Warrant & Seizure
After a preliminary investigation, the authorities obtained a search warrant to locate and seize materials related to the illegal activities of PELISPEDIA. The search was carried out in the city of Minas, and various items such as cell phones, computers, debit cards, cash, and vehicles were confiscated. The analysis of one of the computers confirmed that the administrator managed the websites and the cloud servers where the illegal files were hosted. The administrators admitted their involvement in the illicit activities.
3. Investigation Formalization & Preventive Prison
A hearing was held to formalize the investigation, where the prosecutor requested the indictment of the administrators for their role in the sustained criminal activity of making copyrighted content available and money laundering. The judge granted pre-trial detention for 90 days to ensure the preservation of evidence and compliance with legal requirements. Due to processing delays, the prosecutor requested an extension of an additional 30 days of pre-trial detention, which was granted.
4. Deactivating Sites & Removing Files
Following the court order, the authorities deactivated the websites of PELISPEDIA and deleted the multimedia files hosted on the servers managed by the administrators. This collaborative effort expedited the fight against crime and prevented the dissemination of illegal content.
5. Money Laundering Investigation and Specialized Justice Intervention
The investigation into the alleged money laundering activities related to intellectual property violations was assigned to a criminal judge specialized in organized crime. The financial and economic investigation uncovered national and foreign bank accounts used by the accused to receive profits from their illegal activities. Significant amounts of money in Uruguayan currency and US dollars were found, along with evidence of purchases made using the illegally obtained funds.
6. Application of the Abbreviated Process and Conviction
In an agreement between the prosecution and the accused, an abbreviated process was applied to judge the punishable acts. Both administrators accepted the charges and agreed to the abbreviated process. The prosecutors called for a conviction and proposed a sentence of three years and four months in prison for each administrator, along with the seizure of certain assets. The court admitted the abbreviated process and issued a final judgment, convicting the administrators accordingly.
This case sets a significant precedent in Uruguay for the interpretation and application of legislation pertaining to the protection of intellectual property rights. By effectively applying copyright regulations to online activities and prosecuting the administrators of illegal websites, the authorities were able to safeguard evidence, prevent obstruction of the investigation, deactivate the sites, and remove substantial amounts of illegal content. This milestone showcases Uruguay’s commitment to fighting transnational crimes committed through the internet and protecting intellectual property rights.
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