Twelve-month jail sentence for sharing songs online was not excessive, court rules

8th March 2017

Twelve-month jail sentence for sharing songs online was not excessive, court rules

A 12-month prison sentence handed to a man who illegally shared thousands of songs online was not excessive, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Wayne Evans was jailed after pleading guilty to illegally sharing music from the Top 40 chart. Although Liverpool Crown Court heard the 39-year-old DJ had not made money from the enterprise, the cost to the music industry was estimated at more than £1 million.

Evans appealed his sentence claiming it was excessive, citing his previous unblemished record and the lack of any personal profit.

However, the Court of Appeal found his punishment to be fair, and laid out a number of considerations for a judge to consider when sentencing a case of this nature, including:

– Illegal downloading and distribution can “give rise to serious problems and losses” to the music and entertainment industry, meaning deterrent sentencing “is appropriate”;

– The length of time of the unlawful activity will always be “highly relevant”;

– Any profit made by the defendant is also relevant – as is any loss to the copyright owners;

– Unless the unlawful activity of this kind is “very amateur, minor or short-lived, or in the absence of particularly compelling mitigation or other exceptional circumstances”, an immediate custodial sentence is likely to be appropriate.

Evans, from Liverpool, was arrested last September following a joint investigation between PRS for Music – which represents the rights of UK songwriters, composers and music publishers in the UK – and the City of London Police.

Speaking after Evans’s Crown Court sentencing, Simon Bourn, head of litigation, enforcement and anti-piracy at PRS, described the conviction as a milestone case in the fight against music piracy, adding: “Music piracy on a commercial scale is a serious criminal offence and this sentencing by the Crown Court acknowledges that.

“Copyright infringement has a severe impact on the livelihoods of creators.

“We hope that today’s sentencing sends a message to all those involved in this type of criminal activity, that consequences will follow.”

What does the law say?

Intellectual property (IP) is anything someone creates, like a song or a video, that you can’t hold in your hands.

At the moment online copyright infringement – stealing someone else’s creation and putting it on the internet – has a maximum sentence of two years.

The government is planning to push for much stricter punishments for people found guilty of committing online copyright infringement, increasing the maximum jail term to 10 years.

How can Gotelee help you?

IP is a valuable asset. If you have a name, brand or logo you will want to protect it and stop others from using it. If you have commissioned a work, such as a website content or architect’s design, you will want to know that you either own that work or are appropriately licensed to use it.

Gotelee’s team of expert IP lawyers can advise on how to proceed if you feel that your copyright or trademark is being infringed.

Alternatively, if you are under investigation for copyright and trademark offences, we can offer advice and representation.

We can discuss the best way to act and talk you through the legal process. To find out more, call us on 01473 211121 or email info@gotelee.co.uk. We also have offices in Ipswich, Hadleigh, Felixstowe, Woodbridge or Melton.

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