British man served 22-month prison sentence over global piracy ring

A British man has been sentenced to 22 months in prison over his involvement in a global film piracy ring.

George Bridi was sentenced today (February 7) after pleading guilty to a copyright infringement conspiracy charge last November, according to Yahoo! News.

“Infringement of US copyrights is a big problem in our economy,” US District Judge Richard Berman reportedly said. “It’s doubly troubling that it can be conducted…from outside the US.”

Bridi had already spend more than 17 months in jail after being arrested in Cyprus for his work with the international online piracy group, the Sparks Group.

Berman said Bridi had played an “important supervisory role” in the piracy scheme, and ordered him to pay $120,000 (£88,657) in restitution on top of his sentence.

Sparks has reportedly been leaking films and TV shows before their release dates for nearly a decade, allegedly costing major studios tens of millions of dollars over the years.

Bridi said in court that he believed he had gone down the “wrong path”, adding: “I am deeply remorseful. I’m really sorry for what I’ve done.”

Two other defendants have been charged in the Sparks case, with Jonatan Correa having pled guilty to a copyright infringement conspiracy charge and being sentenced to two and a quarter years of supervised release last May.

The second defendant, Umar Ahmad, from Norway, remains at large.

At the end of last year Microsoft aimed to curb software piracy by offering steep discounts to turn illegal downloaders into legitimate users.

Instead of punishing users using pirated versions of Microsoft Office, the publisher offered 50 per cent off legitimate subscriptions to Office 365.

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