Czech pirate’s video goes viral on YouTube and helps him avoid fine

Judge in Czech Republic had said the the Czech pirate could escape from fine if his video gets 200,000 views

A software pirate has found an odd way to escape from paying damages depending on YouTube video views he gets for an anti-piracy video made by him.

Known only as Jakub F, the man agreed to produce and star in a video denouncing piracy to avoid paying a huge fine.

As a part of the arrangement with Business Software Alliance (BSA) who represented Microsoft, his anti-piracy video had to be viewed more than 200,000 times within two months of its publication. BSA member companies reached an out-of-court agreement with Jakub F.

The 30-year-old was also given a three-year suspended sentence after being found guilty of pirating and sharing illegal copies of copyrighted software of Microsoft, Sony Music, HBO, Twentieth Century Fox and others in forums. Microsoft alone claimed losses of 5.7m Czech Crowns (about £148,000/$223,000).

A spokesperson for the BSA confirmed the punishment after speculation the video was a viral ad. They added the 200,000 views stipulation was to ensure Jakub shared the clip.

“The district court in Litom??ice, Czech Republic, sentenced Jakub F for copyright infringement to three years imprisonment with a conditional suspension of the sentence for three years, said a BSA spokesperson to the Guardian.

“In addition, Jakub F was ordered to pay compensation for damages caused to the BSA member company rights holders.

“In respect of the damages, an out-of-court agreement was reached between Jakub F and the rights holders, under which Jakub F will pay partial compensation for the damages on condition that he collaborates on a public education campaign about the risks of Internet Piracy.”

BSA confirmed that Jakub will only pay “a small portion” of the damages to rights holders if he reaches 200k views with his YouTube video. If he fails, he “may be liable for the full amount of damages ordered by the court”.

Fortunately for Jakub, as if Friday, he has now gone above and two times beyond, with more than 450,000 views on the dramatic “It All Began With File-Sharing” video.

In the video, produced by a Czech public relations firm hired by BSA, Jakub says, “I was convinced that I was too small a fish for someone to get to me. But, eventually, they got me. Even for me, the investigators came to work.”

The video released has garnered mixed reactions potentially inspiring software pirates to seek revenge.

Many YouTube users commented that they had only come to support Jakub. Another user struck a confused chord in a comment calling the video the “weirdest punishment ever.”

The lawsuit was brought by a number of the large media and software companies. Microsoft have accused Jakub of illegally sharing copies of its operating systems due to which they had to suffer huge amount of losses.

According to Microsoft, an estimated one third of all software used in the Czech Republic is pirated.

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