Tuesday 26 February 2013

Prison term for kiwi karoke copycat

The owner of a New Zealand karaoke business has been jailed for four months for offering and selling substantial numbers of karaoke tracks – which had been created from scratch by the owners of Auckland-based Sundown Karaoke, which creates karaoke recordings, burns them to disks and sells them around the world, paying on royalties to the appropriate songwriters. Desmond Robert Adams, 40, also known as Heremia Adams, appeared in the Rotorua District Court  having already  pleaded guilty  to a charge under the Copyright Act 1994 of making for sale an object that was an infringing copy of a copyright work. He was sentenced to four months in prison and ordered to pay reparation of $784. 

Adams was the owner/operator of 1st Choice Karaoke, which provides karaoke and DJ equipment and services throughout New Zealand. According to the police Summary of Facts, in March 2011 Adams advertised karaoke and DJ equipment, and access to 37,000 karaoke songs, on auction website Sella. The complainants contacted him, and Adams sent them a list of songs, telling them he had sold the library to more than 50 clients worldwide. The complainants made a $200 deposit and one member of staff travelled to Rotorua. She met with a team from TVNZ's Close Up programme, who fitted her with a covert camera and microphone to complete the sale. She paid Adams another $584, and was given two external hard drives which held an impressive the 37,000 songs. When random samples were examined by the police they found a number of songs were the copyright property of the complainants.

Judge Jocelyn Munro said there had been few convictions of this type under the Copyright Act. She said there had to be serious consequences for those that breached commercial copyright in order to deter others saying "This is all too common and all too easy in this internet age" adding "For many in recording and entertainment, their livelihoods depend on what they produce." in their victim impact statement, the complainants estimated they had lost in excess of $1.5 million in sales because of Adams and that his actions had reduced their income to next to nothing, destroying their business. Judge Munro noted that with more than 50 sales admitted, the offending had clearly taken place over time saying "This is a large commercial operation you have embarked on. For that reason nothing less than a term of imprisonment is adequate [to provide] deterrence."

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