With the advance of technology making it easier to copy, distribute and obtain copyrighted material we as a Firm are increasingly seeing people Prosecuted in the Criminal Courts for breach of Copyright Laws. In the last ten years there has been an explosion of people selling DVDs with copied films, music, eBooks, audiobooks and other kinds of protected materials through many types of outlets, very frequently online. There are also a large amount of websites where copyrighted material can be either downloaded or streamed without making payment to the owner of the copyright. All of this needless to say is against the law and can result in a trip to the Criminal Courts.

It comes as a surprise to some that these Offences (which they view often as minor and victimless) carry sentences of imprisonment and can even be dealt with in the Crown Court rather than the Magistrates Court if the level of offending is high enough. Should people be producing large quantities of copied material and either selling it or attempting to sell it then prison sentences are often handed out by the Courts.

In addition to Prison sentences and Community based penalties, Proceeds of Crime Applications are often made by the Prosecution to try and recover the value of the gain that the Defendant has made from their enterprise. In this kind of case the Prosecution will estimate the amount of money made by the Defendant by examining how he has done his business and by going through their personal affairs. From their investigations they will then come to a “Benefit Figure”. This is their estimate as to how much money has been made by the Defendant and it can be an extremely high figure and is then for the Defendant to attempt to disprove.

Having come to that Benefit Figure the Courts will then look at the Defendants assets, e.g. House, Car, contents of Bank Accounts and once the Court has been satisfied that the Benefit figure is correct (often after an argument between the Prosecution and the Defence) the Court will then order the Defendant to pay back the “Benefit Figure” even if that means selling their house, car and emptying their bank account.

Breaching copyright can land you in a lot of hot water and financial difficulty not to mention prison so if you have found yourself in bother then call us at Ringrose Law or text ‘Callme’ to 6077 and we will call you back. Ringrose Law – where individuals count.

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