UK Bollywood pirate jailed for 3 years R v Buhecha (2005)

April 2005

Film & Television

Bollywood film distributors claimed a victory in their battle against bootleg DVDs yesterday but said the problem was approaching epidemic levels as millions of counterfeit films flooded into the United Kingdom from Asia. Jayanti Amarishi Buhecha was jailed for three years yesterday after being found guilty of two offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 at Harrow crown court, north-west London, last month. The British Phonographic Industry, the trade body which compiled much of the evidence that resulted in Buhecha being charged, welcomed the sentence as a sign the courts were taking DVD and CD piracy seriously. It estimated that at least four out of 10 Bollywood DVDs and CDs sold in the UK were counterfeit, well above the average for Hollywood movies and western CDs. Others in the industry put the figure at more than seven in 10. The DVDs imported into the UK by Buhecha were manufactured in Pakistan and Malaysia and sold wholesale to shops in London and the Midlands. He began as a legitimate distributor arranging film screenings in Cambridge and went on to become an authorised distributor for Yash Raj Films, an Asian film company. In 2002 he was suspended by the company when it discovered he had been selling pirated copies of its blockbuster Mohabbatein. The firm sued him and Buhecha agreed to pay £16,000 in damages and stop copying the movies. But Buhecha returned to piracy and on one occasion Brent and Harrow trading standards officers found more than 1,000 counterfeit DVDs in the boot of his car. Despite being arrested and bailed, he was caught again by trading standards officers, prompting a police raid on his home and warehouse in Cambridge, during which 18,000 fake DVDs and other equipment were seized. Confiscated computer files showed emails to a global network.

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