The US and the UK have had a handful of convictions for file-sharing, but now Scotland has its first. Auxiliary Nurse, Anne Muir, has been convicted of copyright crimes – namely sharing music. Her sentence will be decided later this month.
The woman, 58-year-old Anne Muir, pleaded guilty after police searched her home in Ayr after a ‘tip-off’ from the BPI and IFPI. The industry bodies had passed details over to the Strathclyde police, who used a search warrant to seize evidence.
The haul, as reported by the BBC, is “7,493 digital music files” and “24,243 karaoke files” which the music industry estimates as having a market value of £54,792.
The Prosecutor in the case, Mirian Watson, told that “intelligence gathered by BPI and IFPI revealed that Anne Muir was a prolific user of a particular file sharing network based in the UK.”
“Illegally flouting copyright laws is tantamount to theft and not only deprives legitimate companies and artists of earnings, but also undermines the music industry as a whole. We will continue to work effectively with law enforcement in this area and to apply our robust prosecution policy,” she added. A statement considered ‘legally unsound’ by some legal scholars.
Defence lawyer Lorenzo Alonzi said:
“It has to be stressed that this offence was not committed for any desire to make money. Mrs Muir was not in any way trying to distribute on a large-scale, she had a very big quantity of these files because she was hoarding – a symptom of a severe obsessive personality disorder that she suffers from.”
In response the UK Pirate Party has issued a statement saying “the data collection methods used by these companies have been shown repeatedly to be unreliable in the USA.”
“This case smacks of allowing the courts to be used as private company enforcers, and that fact should have been challenged by Mrs. Muir’s lawyer. This is yet another example of the way that less well-off people are disadvantaged in the courts by being denied access to competent legal representation,” the Party added.
They also pointed out that “107(1)(e) is aimed at physical copyright infringement. She should never have been charged under that section, let alone convicted; a different section – 107(2A)(b) – was added in 2003 specifically to deal with file-sharing and similar, online activities.”
107(1)(e) carries a maximum punishment of up to 10 years in prison, while section 107(2a)’s punishment tops out at 2 years; (2a) was brought in specifically to deal with online infringement back in 2003.
Mrs Muir is currently the one person convicted in the UK for online copyright infringement in a standalone case.