Pirate cuts deal to avoid fine if his video gets 200k views

For many YouTubers, their first 200k video views are a step along the road to online stardom. For a Czech man called Jakub F, it could be the key to avoiding a big fine for copyright infringement.

“I had to start this site, because I spent eight years spreading pirated software and got caught,” he explained on a website set up to promote a YouTube video in which he apologises for his behaviour.

If the video reaches 200k views, he will avoid a hefty damages bill, after he was found guilty of copyright infringement.

TorrentFreak reports that he struck the deal with rightsholders including Microsoft, HBO, Sony Music and Twentieth Century Fox to produce and promote his anti-piracy mea culpa on YouTube.

“I thought that I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I thought that it does not hurt the big companies. I did not even do it for the money, I did it for fun,” explained the website. “I was convinced that I was too small a fish to be caught. Well, finally they got me: they even sent investigators to my work.”

At the time of writing, the video has been watched more than 141k times, putting Jakub well on the way to reaching his goal. His three-year suspended sentence for copyright infringement will not be affected.

Comments under the video have been mixed. “Only came here to support a pirate. Have a free view on me,” wrote one viewer. “Ditto. Clicked, switched tabs. This punishment is bullshit,” explained another.

“We know the poor guy will not pirate again, but this video will encourage people to start pirating as revenge. What are they thinking LOL,” suggested another commenter, although one sceptical viewer wondered whether the video was simply a “viral ad” by industry body BSA: The Software Alliance, which was involved in the case.

The professional nature of the video – doomy soundtrack included – may lead others to a similar conclusion. However, a BSA spokesperson said the conviction – and the unusual follow-up – is very real.

“BSA member companies reached an out-of-court agreement with Jakub F, who had been found guilty of online piracy causing damages worth CZK 5.7 million (£148k). The district Court in Litoměřice, Czech Republic, sentenced Jakub F. for copyright infringement to three years imprisonment with a conditional suspension of the sentence for three years,” said the spokesperson.

“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 rightsholders 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”.

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Thursday 26th November 2015 15.15 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010