A Liverpool man has been sentenced to a 12 month prison sentence after pleading guilty to illegally distributing UK chart hits online, which PRS for Music says potentially cost the music industry "millions of pounds and depriving the creators of the content fair remuneration for their work". The sentence was the result of a joint investigation between PRS for Music and the City of London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) and is the first custodial sentence to arise from the two organisations working together.
In October Wayne Evans pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing an article infringing copyright and one of possessing or controlling an article for use in fraud - Evans had been illegally uploading the UK’s Top 40 singles to various torrent sites as they were announced each week by the Official Charts Company. The 39-year-old was also distributing tracks through his own website, including ‘acappella’ music to be used for DJ-ing and remixing. He admitted using his computers and the website deejayportal.com for use in or in connection with fraud. Before sentencing Judge Alan Conrad, QC, agreed that a pre-sentence report was a necessity, and said the sentencing judge would require assistance, because it was “a very unusual case”.
Detective Constable Steven Kettle, who was in charge of the case, said: “Today’s sentencing will suggest to others that illegally distributing music is not without its consequences. Evans caused significant loss to the music industry and his actions will have effected jobs across the music industry. By working with partners such as PRS for Music we are better able to work collaboratively to ensure the best investigation of people like Evans and ensure that they are brought to justice.”
PRS for Music Head of Litigation, Enforcement and Anti-Piracy, Simon Bourn commented: “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 and so it is important that PRS for Music, alongside PIPCU, continues to champion and protect our members’ rights. We hope that today’s sentencing sends a message to all those involved in this type of criminal activity, that consequences will follow.”