TV fraud and anti-piracy stuff

Say no to TV fraud and piracy 

We want everyone to be able to enjoy our services, feel the power of the UK’s fastest widely available broadband, tuck in to top telly and get great value home phone and mobile calls. And we aim to bring you these services at the best value possible.

But where we find that people are accessing our services illegally, we have to take action right away.

Here’s why:

  • Not paying for services means the people who work hard to bring you awesome entertainment lose out – whether that’s us at Virgin Media, who need to maintain a great network; or the artists and creative folk who make the entertainment you’re enjoying.
  • Using equipment we haven’t supplied to access our service, without paying for it, puts our network at risk and means that other people’s experience could suffer.

So just to be super clear, here’s what we consider a breach of our terms and conditions:

1. Making copies, re-broadcasting programmes and infringing copyright

A)   At Virgin Media, we respect the artists and creative industries that work hard to produce the programmes we bring to our audiences. We take copyright infringement very seriously as it’s unlawful and may be a criminal offence.

B)  The following acts are not permitted and are contrary to our Terms and Conditions:

a. copying or recording all or any part of the television services except as may be permitted by law for your own private, domestic and non-commercial use (and if this kind of copying becomes illegal in the future you must stop doing it);

b. re-selling, or making any charge for watching or using, all or any part of the television services or

c. showing all or any part of the television services to the public even where no admission fee is charged.

2. Using equipment we haven’t supplied to access our services, without paying for them

We should remind you that access to our TV services via any device other than what has been installed contractually by the company is illegal. Use of any device not provided by Virgin Media is a criminal and civil offence exposing violators to substantial penalties and /or jail time.

Reference to this can be found in section B2(b) of our Terms and Conditions.

Virgin Media takes the threat of piracy very seriously.  We actively co-operate with industry partners to combat this illegal activity.

3. Using equipment to by-pass a signal to access our services, without paying for them

The sale, purchase and possession of illicit devices that have no legitimate use other than to by-pass a protected signal such as Virgin Media's is unequivocally illegal. Where the company is aware of theft of the broadcast signal we will not hesitate to follow all legal avenues to take action. Furthermore, from a technical point of view we constantly deploy electronic counter-measures to impede the use of illegal boxes.

Virgin Media reserves the right to prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law. We have an anti-piracy team dedicated to fighting piracy on our network in addition to monitoring the sale and use of unauthorised devices on online and offline markets.

If you are aware of any of these activities, please email Virgin Media confidentially at:

Reports can be made anonymously, but it helps us if you leave as much detail as possible.

Just to let you know, this number is specially designed to look after TV piracy. So if you need help with anything else, just give us a call on our usual number.

What’s unauthorised use of Television Service?

It’s infringement of copyright or theft of services. All of these are illegal and punishable by considerable fines and/or jail time.

For example:

  • Use of TV services without actually being a subscriber of that service provider (unauthorised connection to our network)
  • Sharing of service provider connection (i.e. splitting the cable and adding an extra connection within your own house or to a neighbour's house)
  • Selling, advertising, possessing or using illicit devices to circumvent encryption measures of service provider to access TV services without permission or payment
  • Subscribing to basic subscription while accessing premium content for free by the use of illicit devices to circumvent encryption measures of a service provider
  • Using domestic TV subscription for commercial use

I don't understand how this is considered theft?

TV content isn’t free. Artists, performers, writers and producers of TV content make their living from their creativity and charge TV channels for the right to show their content. TV channels in turn charge Virgin Media fees in order to be able to include these channels in their TV packages. These fees are generally referred to as copyright fees.

The cost of your monthly subscription fee partially pays for these copyright fees. It also covers day-to-day costs in maintaining and upgrading the network from which you get this content.

This means that unless Virgin Media pays for the right to distribute this content, audiences wouldn’t be able to view it.

TV piracy results in lower margins to offset these day-to-day costs which may ultimately mean that the cost of the product has to go up to offset outgoing expenses.

As such accessing content by illicit means is therefore denying both content and platform providers a return on their economic goods and can therefore be constituted as stealing.

Where does it say that this kind of theft is illegal?

This kind of theft is a criminal offence and in breach of civil law. It’s prosecutable under the Copyright, designs and Patents Act 1988.

How does this kind of theft affect all users?

It affects everyone in three ways:

  1. Content providers may be forced to increase prices to cover their costs. That means everyone else is paying more.
  2. It can affect the quality of service enjoyed by everyone else on the network. That’s because cable is a two-way broadcast network. So when you use illegal equipment, it can generate "feedback" into the network and this can affect the quality of service for legitimate users.
  3. The people who create the programmes we all enjoy lose out. That’s because more people are enjoying their work, than are fairly paying for it, and creative industries suffer.

How do I know if I am in possession of an illicit device?

All Virgin Media equipment is clearly branded. If your equipment came from anyone other than Virgin Media, you’re breaking the law and we’d advise you to stop immediately.

Virgin Media considers to have adequately informed users of the illegality of this equipment via references on the back of customer's bill and information available on the website. Customers are also advised that misuse of equipment to access encrypted services also runs contrary to Terms and Conditions in customer's contracts.

What can I do if I am in possession of an illicit device?

Anyone currently in receipt of Virgin Media services that they’re not paying for should contact Virgin Media and sign up to the correct package.

Annex - Provisions under English Legislation

Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988

Section 297 - Offence of fraudulently receiving programmes.

(1) A person who dishonestly receives a programme included in a broadcasting service provided from a place in the United Kingdom with intent to avoid payment of any charge applicable to the reception of the programme commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine.

(2) Where an offence under this section committed by a body corporate is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body, or a person purporting to act in any such capacity, he as well as the body corporate is guilty of the offence and liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

In relation to a body corporate whose affairs are managed by its members “director” means a member of the body corporate.

Unauthorised decoders.

(1) A person commits an offence if he—

(a) makes, imports, distributes, sells or lets for hire or offers or exposes for sale or hire any unauthorised decoder;

(b) has in his possession for commercial purposes any unauthorised decoder;

(c) installs, maintains or replaces for commercial purposes any unauthorised decoder; 

(d) advertises any unauthorised decoder for sale or hire or otherwise promotes any unauthorised decoder by means of commercial communications.

(2) A person guilty of an offence under subsection (1) is liable—

(a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both;

(b) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years, or to a fine, or to both….

…(4)  In this section—

“apparatus” includes any device, component or electronic data (including software);

 “conditional access technology” means any technical measure or arrangement whereby access to encrypted transmissions in an intelligible form is made conditional on prior individual authorisation;

 “decoder” means any apparatus which is designed or adapted to enable (whether on its own or with any other apparatus) an encrypted transmission to be decoded;

 “encrypted” includes subjected to scrambling or the operation of cryptographic envelopes, electronic locks, passwords or any other analogous application

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