Jail for businessman who pirated TV shows for internet DVD sales

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A BUSINESS consultant who set up a profitable counterfeit DVD operation supplying old BBC programmes for nostalgic viewers has been jailed for nine months.

Mark Small, 47, ran a “home industry” from his property in Huddersfield supplying illegally copied DVDs of programmes from the 1960s, 70s and 80s with of a turnover in excess of £170,000.

Over more than a year, Small estimated he had made a profit of about £80,000, but his internet enterprise came to an end after a raid on his Shepley home in November 2010.

Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday how Small got into the DVD business after other sources of income failed.

Judge Peter Benson said the fraudulent activity had funded, to an extent, a champagne lifestyle adding: “You certainly lived in very comfortable surroundings on the proceeds of an illegal plan that was carried out for the best part of a year and netted a considerable amount of money.”

More than 8,800 counterfeit DVDs were seized and four lap-top computers and two hard-drives, the court was told.

Small, and his 21-year-old partner Sian Lewis, of The Knowle, pleaded guilty to one charge of possessing a Top of the Pops DVD bearing a false trademark with a view to gain and eight further allegations relating to the possession of counterfeit DVDs and computer equipment for use in fraud.

Small’s lawyer Mark Brookes conceded that his client was the prime mover behind the offending, but he stressed that the DVDs were not commercially available from the BBC or other retailers.

Mr Brookes accepted that Small had been infringing the BBC’s copyright.

The court heard that neither Small or Lewis had any previous convictions and Judge Benson was handed a series of testimonials from family and friends.

Judge Benson told Small he had been selling the illegal copies on a grand scale using the internet with the assistance of Lewis.

The judge said he was sentencing Small as the prime mover and there was no alternative to an immediate prison term, with the message also having to be sent out to others who were tempted to make money by illegally producing DVDs.

Lewis was given a community sentence with a requirement to do 140 hours unpaid work.