BPI Welcomes Lengthy Prison Term For Britain's Biggest Bootlegger

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — The UK Recorded Music Industry's trade association The BPI (British Phonographic Industry) welcomed the three-and-a-half year jail sentence handed down to Mark Purseglove, one of Britain's most notorious music pirates. Purseglove, 33, 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, is a British record for music piracy.

Estimated by the BPI to be one of the biggest bootleggers in world, Purseglove had amassed a £6.6 million fortune in 11 years of music piracy. He has now lost all of his assets including two homes in Chelsea, a home in Brighton and his Aston Martin sports car.

Delivering the sentence, Judge 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 million fortune before the March 31 2005 deadline would result in a further five year prison term.

"This is an individual who had made an enormous amount of money by ripping off both the music industry and music fans" said BPI Chairman Peter Jamieson "The result shows that there is no hiding place for these people, and after 10 years of chasing we've succeeded in bringing him to justice."

The court had heard that Purseglove had built his bootlegging empire by amassing a massive collection of illegal recordings of Britain's best known classic and contemporary artists from Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Pink Floyd to Supergrass and Coldplay. He paid people to make illegal recordings, copied broadcasts and illegally counterfeited legitimately released recordings.

Purseglove sold his bootlegs worldwide via an international network of wholesale dealers and at record fairs around the country. He had also used internet auction sites such as eBay, falsely advertising them as rare items, charging as much as £130 per CD.

This is not the first time Purseglove had fallen foul of the law. The BPI first issued proceedings against him in 1991, successfully obtaining a court injunction after he was caught importing bootlegs into the UK. Despite the injunction, Purseglove continued bootlegging and after numerous BPI and IFPI investigations was caught six years later in the US. After a sting operation executed by the BPI's US counterparts the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), he was later deported and ordered not to return to the US for 20 years.

Purseglove was again caught in 1999 selling fakes at the Reading festival, and a prosecution led by Reading Trading Standards led to him receiving a 4 month prison sentence. Undeterred, he continued to expand his international bootlegging operation and after a long and protracted enquiry, he was arrested in the UK in June 2002.

"This investigation has been long, protracted and difficult, culminating in the highest ever proceeds of crime award in a music piracy prosecution," says David Martin, BPI director of Anti Piracy "My grateful thanks go therefore to the BPI and IFPI's Anti Piracy investigators for their sterling efforts in bringing Purseglove to justice. Without doubt he was one of the biggest bootleg dealers in the world and had extensive trading links with other international dealers throughout Europe, USA and further afield." –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen

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