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Four men sentenced over bootleg vinyl operation

By | Published on Monday 3 December 2018

Vinyl

Even the world of piracy is having a vinyl revival. Two men have been jailed and two others have received suspended sentences for their involvement in a bootleg vinyl operation that was manufacturing and selling unlicensed copies of mainly Northern Soul recordings.

Alan Godfrey, Christopher Price, Robert Pye and Stephen Russell were all involved in the piracy venture and were variously accused of copyright and trademark infringement as a result. They each received sentences of between eight and ten months, though for two of the defendants those sentences were suspended.

Anti-piracy officers at record industry trade body the BPI came across the operation while test-buying vinyl that was being sold online. Suspicions that these were not legitimate releases – put out back in the day by the record companies who control the copyright in each of the recordings – were heightened by, among other things, spelling errors and blurred typefaces on the labels.

During their investigation, police officers found suspicious payments in the defendants’ bank and PayPal accounts, and subsequently seized 55,000 records which prosecutors reckoned were worth about £500,000.

Linking the four men as being part of one co-ordinated piracy venture, Alex Greenwood, speaking for the prosecution, told the crown court in Newport that: “All defendants were engaged in the large scale commercial sale of counterfeit goods infringing both trademark and copyright”.

He went on: “In many instances identical copies of recordings were found at the addresses of each of the defendants, indicative that they were supplying each other. All defendants’ PayPal records reflected thousands of sales of similarly described recordings over many years”.

Now that all four men have been sentenced, a separate ‘proceeds of crime’ hearing in relation to the case will take place next year.



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