27 May 2016

A market trader from Corby has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for selling fake DVDs and CDs, following an investigation by Trading Standards.

Andrew Thornton, of Ibsen Walk, Corby, was sentenced at St Albans Crown Court on May 10th for his role in the manufacture, distribution and sale of the counterfeit products from two stalls at a market in Hertfordshire.

Numerous raids

During a three-year investigation up to June 2014 involving Northamptonshire and Hertfordshire Trading Standards, nearly 27,000 DVDs and CDs were seized in numerous raids.

A subsequent raid by Northamptonshire Trading Standards officers at an address used by someone producing the DVDs for Thornton in April 2015 uncovered four duplication towers for producing the counterfeits, as well as 5,879 copied discs and 4,583 blank discs.

The court estimated the total cost to legitimate industries of the counterfeit products to be over £2 million.

The judge, Her Honour Judge Marie Catterson, said 33-year-old Thornton’s charges amounted to “flagrant criminality” requiring a custodial sentence, with half to be served in prison and half on licence. He will now miss the birth of his fifth child.

Proceeds of crime

The court will consider a confiscation order to recover Thornton’s proceeds of crime at a hearing on August 12th.

Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for public protection, strategic infrastructure and economic growth Cllr André Gonzalez de Savage said: “It may be tempting to buy counterfeit DVDs and CDs at a cheap price, but pirate products are often poor quality and, more importantly, cause serious damage to those working hard to earn a living within the film and TV industries.

“If you suspect someone may be selling counterfeit DVDs or other products, you can report it by phoning Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06.”

Kieron Sharp, Director General of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) said: "Many people think copyright theft is a victimless crime and that buying a fake DVD or watching a film from a pirate site has no direct consequences. However, this could not be any further from the truth.

“Not only does piracy starve the creative industries and UK economy of millions of pounds a year, but it also impacts the livelihoods of thousands of people who support and work in the industry.

“We will continue to work with Trading Standards to protect consumers and legitimate businesses from falling victim to intellectual property crime.”

'Serious crime'

Tim Cooper, Head of Content Protection for the British Phonographic Industry, said: “The large scale of Thornton’s counterfeit operation made the difficult trading conditions faced by so many entertainment high street outlets that much harder.

“When stores close not only do customers face greatly reduced choice, but the local economy and jobs suffer too, and, of course, the artists and companies that invest in creating great music and film go unrewarded also.

“So it’s vital we don’t underestimate the serious nature of this crime and the impact it has on people, nor the need to remain ever vigilant and determined to tackle it with all the resources available to us.”