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Father and son sentenced after selling illegal Foxtel services

A Sydney father and son have been sentenced after being caught selling illegal Foxtel services.

A Sydney father and son have been sentenced after being caught selling illegal Foxtel services. Photo: Louise Kennerley

A Sydney father and son have been sentenced by a judge after being caught selling unauthorised Foxtel services to thousands of people.

Michael Scherle, 48, and Daniel Albert Clark, 24, of Villawood were charged with Commonwealth criminal offences relating to the manufacture, distribution and sale of unauthorised decoders, and for providing users with access to encoded Foxtel subscription television broadcasts.

On Tuesday, a Downing Centre court judge ordered Scherle to serve a six-month jail term followed by home detention and community service for his role in leading the offences. Clark was also found guilty and was placed on a good behaviour bond for his involvement.

Foxtel chief executive Richard Freudenstein welcomed the court ruling.

Foxtel chief executive Richard Freudenstein welcomed the court ruling. Photo: Tomasz Machnik

Scherle's sentence was stayed pending an appeal in the District Court on June 11.

A third Sydney man, Haidar Majid Salam Al Baghdadi, 29, is still facing charges for operating a card-sharing network that allegedly allowed 8000 people across Australia to illegally access Foxtel's pay television services. Al Baghdadi's case continues.

Foxtel chief executive Richard Freudenstein welcomed the sentencing of the two men for their role in the provision of unauthorised access.

"We welcome the strong message that this court decision sends to would-be criminals and those that decide to take part in these illegally run businesses," Mr Freudenstein said.

"Piracy is theft, and it's illegal. It not only undermines the business models of companies like Foxtel but of every one of the creative businesses and people who work so hard to supply us with channels, programs and services."

The charges were the result of investigations involving the Australian Federal Police, Foxtel investigators and anti-piracy company Irdeto.

According to Foxtel, the three parties uncovered an organised criminal network "committing widespread intellectual property theft" of Foxtel services, which led to the arrests in December last year.

Foxtel said investigations revealed that as part of the network's activities, the men were involved in the sale of unauthorised set-top boxes programmed to provide access to stolen pay TV channels through an illegal system that used the internet to "hack" into encoded broadcasts.

The AFP said in a joint statement with Foxtel that about 10,000 set-top boxes had been sold to consumers who were often unaware that the items they were purchasing were illegal.

Foxtel also used the case to say it looked forward to working with the Attorney-General's Department and the rest of the Australian media industry to address online piracy in Australia over the coming months.

Fairfax Media has been told that the federal cabinet will consider two proposals to crack down on illegal downloads as early as this week.

In one, internet service providers would be required to issue warnings to people who repeatedly download illegal content. The other would force ISPs to block file-sharing websites such as Pirate Bay.