Four and a half year sentence handed down to ringleader of £5m CD counterfeiting scam
London, 2nd April 2008
Three traders today received lengthy prison sentences for their role in conspiring to run a £5 million illegal operation that imported pirate CDs from the Czech Republic and sold them in shops and stalls in the UK.
Found guilty after a two-week trial, Farhat Nissa, 35, was today sentenced to four years and six months years in prison for her role in a £5million music counterfeiting operation. The sentence is believed to be one of the lengthiest to be handed down for commercial copyright theft in British legal history.
Co-conspirators Wasim Mir, 37, and Naveed Shaikh, 38, also received prison sentences of two years and six months, and one year respectively.
The recording industry in the UK and internationally today hailed the sentences after a trial that exposed the strong links between commercial music piracy and organized crime, as well as highlighting an exemplary partnership between industry and public enforcement.
The Crown Prosecution Service brought the prosecution after BPI investigations into the supply and distribution of "mixtape" CDs in the UK: urban music compilations that are usually recorded and sold without the permission of, or payment to, the artists or labels that released the original recordings.
The CDs were imported into London from the Czech Republic and across the South East. The "In Da Club" CDs compilation series ran to 15 editions, and, using tracks by artists such as Destiny's Child and 50 Cent, became well-known to buyers of urban music.
The fakes, of a high enough standard to convince legitimate retailers to stock them, were spotted on sale in three London shops, Red Records and CD Bar in Brixton, and Disc & Dat in Walthamstow in 2005, and were withdrawn from sale after BPI investigations. Raids followed at Woolwich Market, and an industrial unit at the Lea Valley Estate where the conspirators owned a storage unit. Further fakes were seized at private premises owned by the conspirators.
BPI & IFPI investigators used state-of-the art forensics to pinpoint the source of the discs and trace them back to a manufacturing plant in the Czech Republic.
The operators of the Czech plant helped identify the convicted four UK traders. BPI estimates suggest that more than 400,000 boxsets containing between two and five CDs, some with DVDs, which sold for around £12 a title, were imported during the fraud. The conspirators now face an application for their assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
BPI Director of Anti-Piracy David Wood, who ran the UK investigation said: "This type of fake CD can fetch significant sums, and it's wrong that none of those involved in creating the music received a penny for their work. These sentences confirm that the UK authorities take a dim view of those who line their pockets at the expense of a creative community whose work should be respected and paid for. We hope that the FPS feel vindicated in taking on this case and that this successful outcome will serve as a deterrent to others."
IFPI's Head of Enforcement, Len Hynds, said: "Today's sentence reflects the serious nature of this organised criminal conspiracy. This was an international operation that involved a pan-European supply chain. Experience suggests that organised criminals will enter whatever markets they think they can make a quick profit in. Today's sentence clearly shows that music piracy is not a soft option for organised crime and that people who make illegal profits by abusing others' rights will be punished."
NOTES TO EDITORS
IFPI is the organisation that promotes the interests of the international recording industry worldwide. Its membership comprises some 1,400 major and independent companies in more than 73 countries. It also has affiliated industry national groups in 48 countries. IFPI’s mission is to promote the value of recorded music, safeguard the rights of record producers and expand the commercial uses of recorded music in all markets where its members operate.
The BPI (formerly The British Phonographic Industry) represents the UK recorded music business.
Its membership comprises of over 400 music companies including the four 'major' record companies, indie labels, manufacturers, distributors and hundreds of independent music companies representing literally thousands of labels comprising over 90% of the UK's recorded music market.
A major area of the BPI's work is tackling music piracy, and the BPI combats commercial music piracy on behalf of the wider UK music industry.
Further stats and info on commercial music piracy: www.bpi.co.uk/pdf/BPI_UK_Commercial_Music_Piracy.pdfFor further information contact:
Alex Jacob, IFPI London
Tel: +44 (0)20 7878 7935 (Press Office)
BPI Press Office