News item

Nine months prison sentence for fake DVD seller

A plastic bag containing confiscated pirated dvdsMohammed Waheed, aged 21 of Harlow Road, Bradford has today been sentenced by Bradford Crown court to 9 months imprisonment after pleading guilty to offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 and the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988. Mohammed Waheed was also ordered to pay full prosecution costs of £8266. 
The Recorder of Leeds Judge Roger Thomas QC was not satisfied with Mr Waheed’s version of events and in his summing up stated that it was a sizeable operation selling and manufacturing DVD’s on a large scale and that Mohammed Waheed had been caught red handed, he was running the shop and had a substantial role in the business and that the consequences of this activity was serious and the only outcome could be a prison sentence. 
On the 4th February 2013 following receipt of a complaint, West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service visited the premises of Twilight Video, 293 Legrams Lane, Bradford with officers from West Yorkshire Police.  
A large quantity of copied films and folders containing the covers advertising the films for sale were found underneath the counter of the shop.  The person working in the shop was Mohammed Waheed, further copied discs were found behind a kickboard behind the counter and in a large trunk.  In total approx. 5000 discs were seized from the premises.  An officer saw that there was a copying tower behind the counter that was in the middle of copying discs. 
Mr Waheed was arrested by Police Officers and subsequently gave a No Comment interview.  
All of the films seized had been recorded on commercially available recordable DVD-R discs. Furthermore the presentation of the packaging and the discs is inconsistent with that used when legitimate film discs are commercially produced. The recordable DVD format is not used in the manufacture of genuine DVD’s. In total there were 5334 copied discs. 
The majority of the discs were multiple copies of the same film titles, contained in the same plastic wallet.  Multiple copies indicate that possession of the films was in order to sell them.  The majority of the film covers displayed in the folders were cheap paper photocopies. Titles included ‘Ice Age 4’, ‘Gangster Squad’, ‘Lincoln’, ‘The Lorax’ 
A sample of the discs were sent to FACT for examination and were confirmed to be copies not made in accordance with the copyright licence holders. FACT have advised that the average loss to the retail industry is £7.25 for each counterfeit disc sold.  But this does not take into account potential losses in cinema revenue and the loss to legitimate rental companies. The total loss to the industry equates to £38,867. 
The UK audio visual industries lose around £500 million a year due to copyright theft, equating to a total economic loss to the UK economy of £1.2 billion. 
FACT also commented that none of the discs examined conformed to the provisions of the Video Recordings (Labelling) (Amendment) Regulations which specify the appropriate BBFC classification symbols that should appear on each disc. 
Mr Waheed was interviewed again in April 2013, he gave a ‘No Comment’ interview. 
The average counterfeit DVD sells for approximately £2 - £5.  Based on the lowest sale price of £2, the takings on the total 5361 discs seized would total £10,722.  Based on the blank discs costing 20 pence each to buy, this amounts to an 1800% mark-up per disc, a profit of £1.80 per disc, if all 5361 discs had been sold, this would amount to a profit of £9650. 
Councillor Val Slater, Chair of the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee, said  “This is another successful result for West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service in its fight against those individuals involved in the manufacture and supply of counterfeit DVD’s, it sends a strong message out to other shops still involved in this illegal activity”. 
David Lodge, of West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service, said “This is part of an ongoing campaign to eradicate counterfeit DVD shops in Bradford.  We have a number of other court cases pending and further ongoing investigations and this result should serve as a warning to individuals involved in this illegal activity”. 
If you suspect somebody of selling counterfeit goods then report this to West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506
DATE: 28 January 2014