Honestly. You get a suspended sentence for glassing someone, a Community Order for rape, does anyone go to prison anymore? Well, in the Midlands they’re a bit robust, with one Judge leading the way by jailing Phillip Danks for nearly 3 years (2 years, 9 months to be precise) for filming in a cinema.
Obviously, there’s a bit more to it than that … Mr Danks not only filmed Fast and Furious 6, but he uploaded it to the internet where it was downloaded 700,000 times. He also offered to sell it via his facebook page. An assistant of his, Michael Bell, got a Community Order.
Apparently this lead to a loss of revenue to the film company of ‘millions of pounds’. This needs to be approached with a slight degree of scepticism as it is extremely unlikely that all those who downloaded it would otherwise have paid the full price to go and watch it.
What isn’t clear is exactly how much money Mr Danks made from this operation. According to a FACT press release (Federation Against Copyright Theft – the body that prosecuted this) he offered to sell copies of the film for £1.50, and it may be that he made something from all the downloads. It is doubtful if he would have made more than a couple of thousand pounds for this.
What were the charges?
They are said to be under the Fraud Act and (probably) s198 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998 (maximum sentence of ten years).
There are guidelines for fraud, but this doesn’t fit too well into any of the categories. At a push we’d say it was a kind of confidence fraud constituting a single transaction of a non-vulnerable victim (page 20), but even then it’s not ideal.
The sentence does seem pretty high. We don’t know if there was a guilty plea, but we think so. Either way, this does seem out of line with sentenced for other offences. We’d expect an appeal.