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A Sydney man was just given a suspended jail sentence for providing free Foxtel to more than 8000 people

The Real Housewives of Sydney on Foxtel. (Twitter/Foxtel)

A 33-year-old Sydney man has been given an 18-month suspended prison sentence for providing free access to pay television service Foxtel to more than 8000 Australians.

Haidar Majid Salam Al Baghdadi was sentenced on Friday at the Downing Centre courts for operating an illegal network that provided thousands of people a way to watch Foxtel channels for free.

The method of piracy was not disclosed.

The conviction was the result of a joint investigation by Foxtel, the Australian Federal Police and cybersecurity provider Irdeto, who found “an organised criminal network” that allegedly stole pay television content.

“Foxtel takes intellectual property theft very seriously as it severely undermines the creative industry including every business and individual that works so hard to deliver us the movies, sport, drama and entertainment we love,” said Foxtel chief executive Peter Tonagh.

“Foxtel welcomes today’s court ruling and hopes it sends a strong signal that this type of activity is illegal.”

Foxtel, along with Village Roadshow, led the legal battle to have Australian internet service providers block content piracy sites. In February, the pay television provider also threatened to take two men who illegally re-broadcast its coverage of the Anthony Mundine vs Danny Green boxing match to court, but relented after a public apology was given.

The subscription television company is losing customers to streaming providers such as Netflix and Stan, with tech analyst firm Telsyte predicting this week that the number of Australians paying for streaming would overtake those that have pay TV within the next 12 months.

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