A joint press release from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and the International Federation of Phonographic Industries (IFPI) reports that a gang of CD pirates have been ordered to hand over the proceeds of an illegal operation that had seen imported pirate CDs from the Czech Republic sold at market stalls and record stores across London and the South East of England. The Crown Court confiscated the £70,000 profit and made a compensation order in favour of the music companies whose repertoire was being sold illegally. The press release sys that this 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 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.
www.ifpi.org / www.bpi.co.uk / http://www.bpi.co.uk/pdf/BPI_UK_Commercial_Music_Piracy.pdf