News item

Bootlegger jailed for vinyl records scam

picture of a counterfeit record cover

This month Cumbria Trading Standards Service proved that the internet is no safe haven for those dealing in the illegal trade of counterfeit music. Recent years have seen the collector’s market for vinyl music records increase at an alarming rate. As with any new trend, the presence of counterfeit items was not far behind as Cumbria Trading Standards recently discovered.

In February 2012 The British Recorded Music Industry Limited (BPI) received intelligence relating to E-bay based business “Northeast-Vinyl-UK”. Operated by Cumbrian resident Paul Parkin (57), the business traded in what was believed to be illicit vinyl records from well known artists such as The Beatles.  

A test purchase was obtained, examined and found to contravene Copyright laws. It was at this point that the BPI contacted Cumbria Trading Standards requesting an investigation to be conducted. A warrant to search Mr Parkin’s premises was authorised and executed in June 2012 by Trading Standards Officers which led to the seizure of vinyl records, packaging materials and computer equipment. The seized items were catalogued and examined by the BPI finding a large quantity of the items to be infringing the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 and the Trade Mark Act 1994. 

Mr Paul Parkin had no authority to use the musical works, associated art work or registered trademarks in the course of his business. From the items seized, 10 “Vinyl record titles by “The Beatles” were further examined and found to be unauthorised recordings which also illegally used the EMI, Parlophone and THE BEATLES registered trade marks.

Cumbria Trading Standards compiled a case against Mr Parkin based on 10 specimen exhibits. Following the submission of the investigation report, a hearing was scheduled at Carlisle Magistrates Court on Wednesday 14th August 2013. 23 charges were laid including 10 offences relating to the attempted distribution of items infringing copyright works contrary to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 and 13 offences relating to the unauthorised use of registered trademarks contrary to the Trade Marks Act 1994.   

Mr Parkin pleaded guilty to all 23 offences with District Judge Chalk referring the case to Carlisle Crown Court for sentencing.

On Friday 13th September 2013, Mr Parkin attended Carlisle Crown Court in which he received a 4 month custodial sentence.

Although Cumbria Trading Standards were able to prove that Northeast-Vinyl-UK had been operational for over 4 years generating a profit in excess of £64,000, the fact that the seizure had found some items to be genuine cast doubt on the quantity and value of counterfeit items being traded during that 4 year period.  The sentence was therefore based on the 4 month period of trading between the test purchase taking place and the execution of the warrant. 

This was an unusual case for Cumbria Trading Standards due to the goods involved. It was reassuring to see that Carlisle Crown Court fully recognised the detriment cause to both consumers and the music industry by illicit musical items. With the growing trend of collecting vinyl records this has been a positive result in preventing the collectors market from being exploited. 

Angela Jones, Trading Standards Service Manager for Cumbria County Council, said:

As this case highlights, anyone found to be attempting to distribute counterfeit goods on the internet will be held responsible and could face criminal or civil action. Internet trading has made it easier for individuals to distribute counterfeit goods.

“The unauthorised use of registered trade marks damages legitimate traders who trade lawfully. Trading Standards protect both consumers and honest businesses who work hard to uphold the law and trade fairly. Anyone found to be selling or distributing counterfeit goods can face prosecution, confiscation of illegally earned assets or even – as Parkin has found out to his cost – imprisonment.

DATE: 20 September 2013