Retired Police Officer Held Massive Database of Music Files for Swapping. R v Manton

September 2004

Music Publishing

After British Phonographic Industry (BPI) investigators spotted a website selling CDs by mail order, Trading Standards Officers seized two computers, a stack of 1,262 disks and details of emails from Howard Manton – alleged evidence of the illegal internet-based music business the retired policeman was running from his home. The 45-year-old ran a website which offered copied albums for sale. His online catalogue featured 37,650 songs – some of which had been recorded live and had not been released by the record companies. Among his collection were counterfeits of tracks by Robbie Williams, Oasis, Queen and Pink Floyd. The music was downloaded in mp3 format onto disks, which each contained up to eight albums. They also included artwork from the front and back cover of the genuine CD. Manton, admitted 14 charges including copyright and trade mark infringement. He told Nottingham magistrates that he made from the venture but had ploughed this back into his music collection. He also claimed that he had contacted trading standards prior to setting up the site and had been told that it was not illegal. The Magistrates Court sent the case to Nottingham Crown Court for sentence – they ordered a full examination into the profits he made. The Crown Court has substantially higher powers of sentencing than magistrates (who are limited to six months imprisonment) including unlimited fines.

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