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A British judge has jailed music bootlegger for three and a half years. Mark Purseglove, 33, is estimated to be one of the biggest bootleggers in world, amassing a £6.6 (US$12.5) million fortune in 11 years of music piracy. Purseglove sold his bootlegs around Europe, in Japan and across the world via an international network of wholesale dealers. He had also used internet auction sites such as eBay, falsely advertising the discs as rare items, charging as much as US$240 per CD. He was arrested in June 2002 after protracted investigations by anti-piracy teams from IFPI and BPI, the bodies representing the international and UK recording industry. Purseglove has now lost all of his assets including two homes in Chelsea in London, a home in Brighton and his Aston Martin sports car (under the Proceeds of Crime legislation). He was jailed and ordered to forfeit all of his assets after being sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment on charges of Conspiracy to Defraud the UK recorded music industry. The confiscation order, amounting to £1.8 million (US$3. 4 million), is a British record for music piracy. Delivering the sentence, Judge Timothy Pontius made it clear that Purseglove’s decision to “flout the law to reap considerable financial rewards” would not be tolerated and that he “needed to pass a sentence to deter you and others and send a strong message that the courts will provide effective protection of the rights of producers, composers and publishers” and that he wished to “deprive you of as much as I lawfully can” adding that the “loss to the recording industry was likely to be considerable”. The Judge took into account Purseglove’s “contempt of previous injunctions” and “repeated flagrant and blatant disregard for the law” and ruled that failure to hand over his £1.8 (US$3.4) million fortune before the March 31 2005 deadline would result in a further five year prison term. The court had heard that Purseglove had built his bootlegging empire by amassing a massive collection of illegal recordings of classic and contemporary artists from Led Zeppelin, David Bowie and Pink Floyd to Supergrass and Coldplay. He paid people (including the band’s own sound engineers) to make illegal recordings, copied broadcasts and illegally counterfeited legitimately released recordings. Purseglove’s previous record included being the subject of a court injunction in 1991 after he was caught importing bootlegs into the UK. In 1996 he was caught in the US through a sting operation executed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in conjunction with the FBI. He was later deported and ordered not to return to the US for twenty years. Purseglove was again caught in 1999 selling fakes at the Reading Festival in the UK, and a prosecution led to a four month prison sentence. Undeterred, he continued to expand his international bootlegging operation until his arrest in 2002.
See : www.ifpi.org

The Times 9 July 2004
Music Week 17 July 2004