Technology

Pirate avoids lawsuit after hitting 200,000 video views

Jakub F Image copyright FILMZLICINCOMPANY
Image caption Jakub plays himself in the film based on his experience

A convicted software pirate has been handed an unusual punishment.

The man, named only as Jakub F, was told he would be spared having to pay hefty damages as long as a film denouncing piracy he was made to produce got 200,000 views.

He reached his target within days, and now has over 400,000 hits on YouTube.

He came to the out-of-court settlement with a host of firms whose software he pirated after being convicted by a Czech court.

In return, they agreed not to sue him.

The 30-year-old was also given a three-year suspended sentence.

The criminal court decided that any financial penalty would have to be decided either in civil proceedings or out of court.

The firms, which included Microsoft, HBO Europe, Sony Music and 20th Century Fox, estimated that the financial damage amounted to thousands of pounds, with Microsoft alone valuing its losses at 5.7m Czech Crowns (£148,000).

But the Business Software Alliance (BSA), which represented Microsoft, acknowledged that Jakub could not pay that sum.

Instead, the companies said they would be happy to receive only a small payment and his co-operation in the production of the video.

Image copyright FILMZLICINCOMPANY
Image caption Jakub's film needed to get 200,000 views in order for the deal to be valid

In order for the firms' promise not to sue to be valid, they said, the video would have to be viewed at least 200,000 times within two months of its publication this week. A spokesman for the BSA told the BBC that the stipulation was to ensure that Jakub would help share it as widely as possible.

But, if the video had not reached the target, the spokesman said that - "in theory" - the firms would have grounds to bring a civil case for damages.

A Czech public relations firm, working for the BSA, set up a website in Jakub's name to host the video. A message from Jakub on the site, written in Czech, read: "I thought I was not doing anything wrong. I thought it did not hurt the big companies… I was convinced that I was too small a fish."

In the video, Jakub, who, the BSA accepted, did not pirate the software for financial gain, warned other small-time pirates they too could be caught. Jakub reportedly put copies of Microsoft Windows 7 and 8, as well as other content, on filesharing sites.

The film, in which Jakub plays himself, has so far been watched more than 400,000 times.

The video - The Story of my Piracy - is, the message reads, a faithful depiction of how Jakub initially enjoyed pirating the software, before being tracked down and receiving a visit from the police.

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