Serial Games Criminal Receives Suspended Sentence

Wednesday 20th August/... A Yate man has been sentenced at Bristol Crown Court after being convicted of a total of 29 offences regarding the counterfeiting of games, music and film, as well as possessing for supply unclassified pornographic films. Dominic Brooks, 33, of Blaisdon, Yate, was handed a six-month sentence, suspended for two years, on 28th July, as well as being ordered to carry out 150 hours unpaid community service during the next 12 months for the offences under the Trade Marks Act and the Video Recordings Act. A forfeiture order was also made for nearly 2,900 master discs containing games, film and music, as well as computer equipment and other material that was originally detained from Brooks in connection with his pirating activities.

Brooks, who works at the Sainsbury’s distribution centre in Emerson’s Green, was originally targeted by South Gloucestershire Trading Standards following information implicating him in the sales of counterfeited material to his work colleagues. A warrant was originally executed at his home address in December 2006, when he was arrested and large quantities of evidence relating to counterfeiting were seized.

Further investigations by Trading Standards revealed that Brooks was in possession of monthly lists in which he detailed and priced all the illegally copied stock that he was selling. It was further established that these lists were regularly circulated to many of his 92 work colleagues on a monthly basis, when he would update them with the new titles that he was able to offer them. Forensic examination of his computer also revealed that he was receiving email orders for the listed products.

Mr Brooks pleaded innocent and was tried at North Avon Magistrates Court on 7th July 2008 when he gave evidence stating that he was in fact not running a business of selling these items and that his activities merely amounted to a hobby. He denied that the monthly lists were created by him and suggested that a friend of his had done so. However, Magistrates concluded that he was guilty of the offences due to the overwhelming weight of evidence establishing that the copied games, films and music he had in his possession amounted to a legitimate market value in excess of£80,000.

The case was passed up to Bristol Crown Court for sentencing when it was revealed that the prosecution were also applying for a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. This will involve a hearing at a later date when Mr Brooks may be ordered to hand over assets financed by his counterfeiting activity.

Before sentencing Brooks, Judge Hagen commented that counterfeiting in this manner was widespread and that she had a duty to consider passing a deterrent sentence, even though it was noted that his activities were not on a substantial commercial scale.

Michael Rawlinson, managing director of ELSPA, said:“ELSPA would like to thank South Gloucestershire Trading Standards and employees of Sainsbury’s distribution centre in Emerson’s Green for their work in shutting down Brooks’ counterfeiting activities. The simple fact about piracy of video games, music and films is that it is illegal and punishable by fines, Community Service and jail sentences. Counterfeiting it is nothing more than theft. Counterfeiters are only out for one thing: money. And because of this consumers who buy counterfeit games have no recourse under law for faulty goods.”

Neil Derrick, Senior Enforcement Officer at South Gloucestershire Trading Standards, added:“We are very pleased with the outcome of this case, and especially with the fact that the Crown Court recognises the need to give deterrent sentences for this type of activity, which many people seem to view as socially acceptable. It has to be remembered that those who engage in it are at risk of losing their liberty and assets.”

Anyone wishing to report counterfeiting activity, especially in the workplace, can contact Consumer Direct in confidence on 08454 04 05 06.

Ends.

About ELSPA - http://www.elspa.com

ELSPA (The Entertainment&Leisure Software Publishers Association) was founded in 1989 to establish a specific and collective identity for the computer and video games industry. Membership includes almost all companies concerned with the publishing and distribution of interactive leisure software in the UK.

ELSPA’s activities include: Official Chart and Industry Reports, Anti-Piracy UK and EU, PR and Communication, Events. More information on all these activities can be found at http://www.elspa.com.

About Software Piracy and its negative impact on both consumers and industry.

ELSPA estimates criminal gain through computer and video games piracy sits at approximately£600 million.

Piracy/counterfeiting is illegal and punishable by fines and jail sentences.

The illegal copying of software poses the very real threat of criminal prosecution and a criminal record, as well as the risk of massive personal financial loss under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Consumers have no recourse under law for faulty pirated games, which can damage hardware.

Counterfeited/pirated games are often mixed with obscene or pornographic material.

Local and national jobs are lost as result of pirate operations.

Proven links exist between many organised counterfeiting organisations and dealers in drugs and pornography.

For further information on ELSPA or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Tom Sargent/Stuart Taylor

Barrington Harvey

Tel: 01462 456780

Fax: 01462 456781

Email: tom.sargent@bhpr.co.uk/ stuart.taylor@bhpr.co.uk

Issued by: Barrington Harvey, Trooper’s Yard, Bancroft, Hitchin SG5 1JW

 


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