UK court jails importer of pirate CDs from Eastern Europe
February 28, 2002 - A Lithuanian man was jailed for six months by a London court today for importing thousands of pirate CDs into the UK from Eastern Europe.
Tomas Masiulis, 25, had brought in 10,000 CDs of Ukraine origin carrying top best-sellers including The Spice Girls Forever, The Beatles 1 album, and material by Eminem, Craig David, Artful Dodger, David Gray, Jill Scott and Westlife. The CDs were high-quality counterfeits with a market value of over £100,000.
Masilius was arrested after police seized artwork and the CDs at two properties in London in December 2000. The police had been called in after Customs at Heathrow intercepted a shipment of good quality CD inlays entering the country from Lithuania. The investigation was assisted by the organisations representing the recording industry internationally and in the UK, IFPI and the BPI. Forensic analysis by IFPI technicians confirmed that the CDs originated in Ukraine, one of the world's most notorious exporters of pirate CDs.
Snaresbrook Crown Court, where Masiulis, of Edmonton, pleaded guilty for trademark offences today, heard that these were serious charges which carry a maximum sentence of 10 years. Piracy had a devastating effect on artists, retailers and record companies, the court heard.
Eastern Europe is one of the world's biggest exporting regions for the illegal pirate CD trade which is worth more than $US4 billion globally. Lithuania is a major distribution outlet for CDs originating in the CIS and Baltic States and heading for the rest of Europe.
David Martin, BPI's Director of Anti-Piracy said: "This sends an important message that music piracy is a very serious offence and will not be tolerated by the courts. This is good news for the British music business and a warning for all music pirates."
Iain Grant, Head of Anti-Piracy for IFPI, said: "Music piracy is a multi-billion international business, and the traffic of millions of pirate CDs from Eastern Europe is a very serious concern to the record industry. Cases like this are instrumental in helping us fight the problem."
IFPI represents the recording industry worldwide with over 1,400 record producer and distributor members in 76 countries around the world. It also has national groups in 46 countries. IFPI Secretariat is based in London and linked to regional offices in Brussels, Hong Kong, Miami and Moscow. BPI is the trade body representing hundreds of British labels large and small committed to helping record companies, fighting piracy and promoting the value of music.
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