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Man jailed for selling bootleg CDs on Amazon and eBay

By | Published on Wednesday 19 August 2020


In these crazy times in which we live, how about we report on a nice old fashioned slightly reassuring bootleg CD operation? Although the bootleg CDs were being sold on Amazon and eBay. So not entirely old fashioned. I preferred it when it was all about market stalls and car boot sales.

Anyway, a man who led a bootleg CD operation selling counterfeit discs via Amazon and eBay has been handed an eighteen month prison sentence after being found guilty of criminal trademark infringement. The conviction comes at the end of a case initiated by the Content Protection Unit of record label trade body the BPI and then pursued by Lancashire Trading Standards.

Morecambe-based John Waldie admitted to sixteen counts of trademark infringement after selling thousands of counterfeit CDs bearing the trademarks of various labels, all of which had been manufactured in China. Among the discs he sold were releases by Adele, Justin Bieber, Coldplay, One Direction, Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith. Two of his associates, Sarah Forsyth and Adam Keates, were also convicted of trademark-related crimes, albeit with lesser sentences.

The BPI’s Content Protection Team first spotted the bootleg CD operation while monitoring music sales on the Amazon marketplace. Prosecutors reckoned that Waldie et al netted £464,000, confirming it was a commercial operation justifying criminal rather than civil action.

The three defendants all pleaded guilty to the charges once the case got to Preston Crown Court back in January of this year, although Waldie tried to blame a fourth person – who had died during the investigation – for spearheading the whole thing.

Welcoming the ruling, BPI Content Protection Investigator Chris Sheehan said: “Selling fake CDs is illegal. Whether it’s on a street corner or online, it makes no difference. It’s a criminal offence. The eighteen month prison sentence given to the ringleader is a strong message to others that music piracy is not a quick way to make money. On the contrary, it’s a quick way to get yourself sent to prison. It rips off consumers, it rips off legitimate retailers and it rips off the artists and record labels who go unrewarded for their time, investment and creativity”.

Meanwhile Nick McNamara from Lancashire Trading Standards added: “This was a sophisticated counterfeiting operation where high quality Chinese counterfeits were sold as genuine to unsuspecting members of the public. Waldie’s lengthy jail term shows how seriously the courts treat this kind of offending. We’re grateful to the BPI and all the trademark holders and financial institutions that came together to help us secure these convictions”.