Pre-Release Music Pirate Pleads Guilty in Landmark Case

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A second defendant has pleaded guilty following a private copyright infringement prosecution initiated by music group BPI. In the most notable case of its type ever brought in the UK, the man will be sentenced next month for distributing more than 8,000 pre-release tracks.

Earlier this month it was revealed that following the lead of the Federation Against Copyright Theft, the BPI would begin their own private prosecution against alleged content pirates.

Their case involves former members of now-defunct file-sharing links forum Dancing Jesus. The site was taken down in 2011 following an investigation carried out by the BPI and IFPI, with assistance from the US Department of Homeland Security.

Two people were arrested by City of London Police, the owner of the site and the forum’s top uploader. Homeland Security assisted UK police by seizing a Dancing Jesus server hosted in the United States.

The trial, which began on October 6, took place at Newcastle Crown Court. One defendant, site owner and admin Kane Robinson of South Shields, had already pleaded guilty to illegally distributing music back in January 2014.

Richard Graham, the site’s alleged top uploader, went into the trial with a “not guilty” plea, but after evidence was presented in court earlier this week the Leicestershire man changed his plea to guilty.

“The guilty verdict confirms that posting illegal online links to music is a criminal offense which economically harms musicians and the labels that support them,” said David Wood, Director of BPI’s Copyright Protection Unit.

“Pre-release piracy, in particular, robs musicians of artistic control, leaving them with no say in when and how their music – which has taken blood, sweat and tears to produce – is released.

The case is significant in a number of ways, not least the scale of online infringement connected to the pair’s guilty plea. Add in the fact that Dancing Jesus was particularly well-known as a venue to obtain pre-release content and this becomes the most important UK music industry case since the failed 2010 prosecution of the infamous OiNK BitTorrent tracker.

Graham and Robinson will be sentenced under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. Their fate will be determined by Judge Sherwin early next month.


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