CD pirates required to pay money to rights holders
8th December 2009
A Crown Court judge has confiscated £70,000 profit accrued by pirate CD traders and made a compensation order in favour of the music companies whose repertoire was being sold illegally.
It is the first time that record labels in the UK have been awarded compensation from assets that have been confiscated in court from music pirates.
The money is payable to BPI, which represents the recorded music industry in the UK, and will be distributed by PPL, the music licensing company that collects revenue from broadcast and public performance licences on behalf of producers and performers.
The judge made the ruling yesterday under the Proceeds of Crime Act (2002) at Snaresbrook Crown Court against two of the four pirate traders who had been convicted of conspiracy to infringe copyright in March 2008. It is believed that the gang organised the manufacture, clandestine import and sale of around 1.2 million pirate CDs in total.
Wasim Mir was ordered to pay a £70,000 confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act. A compensation order for this amount was also made with monies payable to BPI. The court believed he materially benefited to a greater amount than this, but agreed £70,000 was the sum of money he had available. Mir has six months to pay the money or face 21 months in prison.
Mohammed Sheikh was found to have materially benefited from the illegal trade by £30,000, but it was agreed he had no assets to pay a confiscation order.
A third defendant, Farrah Nissa, who received a prison sentence for her coordinating role in the illegal business, will face a court hearing next year to determine the size of the confiscation order against her.
The CD piracy operation had involved the distribution and sale of unlicensed pirate urban music compilations. Some of these pirate CDs became brands in their own right with the In The Club series running for more than 15 editions.
The original case had been brought by the Crown Prosecution Service, acting on information from The Metropolitan Police, IFPI and BPI, which represent the recording industry internationally and in the UK. The London Regional Assets Recovery Team (RART) identified the profits that had been made from the criminal enterprise.
BPI had made a test purchase of a CD that was dispatched to IFPI's forensic facility in London. Using state-of-the-art technology, investigators pinpointed the source of the discs and traced them back to a manufacturing plant in the Czech Republic. The operators of that plant helped identify the four illegal traders from the UK.
Farrah Nissa and Mohammed Sheikh were found guilty in March 2008 after an eight-week trial. The court had heard that Nissa's company, SFH, one of the largest independent brokers, based in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, was commissioned by Wasim Mir, a market trader, and others to import the pirate CDs. Wasim Mir and another trader, Ayaz Javed Qureshi, had pleaded guilty at the start of the trial.
Jeremy Banks, director of anti-piracy operations for IFPI, says: "Today's ruling sends out a clear message to those hoping to make money from others' hard work and investment. You may be subject to police action, the Crown Prosecution Service could place your case before a court and a judge may confiscate any illegal profits you make. In this case the Metropolitan Police Service, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Court understood that CD piracy is not a victimless crime and took firm action which we applaud."
David Wood, BPI director of Anti-Piracy, says: "It takes hundreds of thousands of pounds of investment by music companies to break an artist into the Top 10 in the UK. That is money spent on advances to artists, recording costs and marketing and promoting an album to bring it to the public's attention. It is not right that criminals can free ride on that investment to make money and ensure it is harder for music companies to recoup their investment to spend on the production of future albums."
For further information contact:
Alex Jacob, IFPI London
Tel: +44 (0)20 7878 7940 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel: +44 (0)20 7878 7935 (Press Office)