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Canadian Police Seize 'Bootleg' Rock Concerts

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has seized several hundred 'bootleg' copies of live concerts of numerous Canadian and international recording artists and has charged a Hamilton, ONT man with five counts of copyright infringement. The seizure was made at a retail event open to the public at a downtown Hamilton hotel on June 13. Information provided by investigators from the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) to the RCMP led to the seizure and the subsequent charges.

The 'bootleg' musical works seized on June 13 by police include approximately 1,140 DVDs; 1,570 VHS tapes; 340 CDs; 50 audiocassettes and 5 CDRs (video in CD format). They contain 'bootleg' live concerts of Canadian artists including Shania Twain, Nickelback, The Guess Who, Jann Arden, Rush, Avril Lavigne, Bryan Adams, Neil Young, The Tragically Hip and The Barenaked Ladies. The concerts were illegally recorded in numerous venues in North America, including Toronto and Hamilton. Other musical works seized include concerts by The Rolling Stones, The Who, Guns and Roses and Bruce Springsteen among many others.

Victor Joseph Patrick Avalis, age 43, is charged with the following under the Copyright Act:

One count of allegedly illegally producing a product for sale or hire for which he does not hold the copyright – Section 42(1)(a); and

Four counts of allegedly offering illegally produced products for sale or hire for which he does not hold the copyright – Section 42(1)(b)

Avalis was a vendor at the June 13 event. Two other vendors, who voluntarily relinquished their products, were given warnings by police. The identity of one vendor who grabbed his computer and fled the scene is still being investigated.

"Theft of intellectual property in this manner is a flagrant violation of copyright laws," said Inspector Peter Goulet, officer in charge of the RCMP Greater Toronto Area Federal Enforcement Section. "Music piracy is not a victimless crime – it is an insidious and growing threat to legitimate business. On the international stage, it is also becoming an attractive criminal activity for organized crime and entrepreneurial criminal organizations whose profits are frequently reinvested in other serious criminal enterprises such as drug trafficking and money laundering."

"This is a very significant seizure of infringing recordings and Canadian artists and other rights owners can be grateful for the diligence and professionalism of the RCMP in this process," said Brian Robertson, president, Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA).

"To discover that someone is selling bootleg DVDs and CDs of my live shows without my consent is heartbreaking. Touring is an incredibly important part of my career as a singer/songwriter – it's my job and it's how I connect with people," commented Jann Arden. "I've spent years creating my show and relationships with the fans. When an artist chooses to make their own DVD, they have creative control and quality control. With the audience as a willing participant, together they determine the live show experience. The illegal recording and distribution of live concerts is theft on many levels. Something special was taken from me and my audience."

"Nickelback are pleased to see these charges laid against this individual, and wish to thank the RCMP for their efforts in this matter," added Jonathan Simkin, Nickelback's long-time lawyer and co-owner (with Chad Kroeger) of 604 Records. "Bootlegging is theft, and individuals that try and make money by stealing intellectual property should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Bootlegging also results in substandard product of inferior quality being released into the marketplace. Nickelback are proud of the quality of the recordings they release, and the action of this individual, if proven, is a disservice not only to Nickelback but to all music fans."

"The band spend a lot of time and energy making sure their live recordings sound as good as possible and these bootlegs just don't live up to that high standard," says Ray Danniels, Rush's manager.

"In my view, bootleggers are thieves, pure and simple," said Lorne Saifer, manager of The Guess Who. –Bob Grossweiner and Jane Cohen