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Pirates Jailed For Selling Bootleg Games

18 months imprisonment given to one man; three years to another

Wednesday 23rd August 2006/ Two men who made a living from selling pirated games have been sentenced in separate court hearings to substantial terms of imprisonment after Trading Standards officers, local police and APU investigators discovered stashes of illegally copied games at their respective premises.

Nicholas James Hunter, 40, of Brookfield Road, Patchway, Bristol, who pleaded guilty to 17 offences under the Trade Marks Act (1994) at an earlier hearing, was jailed for 18 months at Bristol Crown Court on 16th August.

Hunter, a father of three, had been using state-of-the-art copying equipment to create pirate copies of games when his house was raided by South Gloucestershire Trading Standards, Gloucestershire Police and an APU officer in 2004. Amongst the illicit copies were found 2200 discs (Xbox and PC games), two computers, three duplicating towers, two printers and 500 blank discs which, if sold legitimately, would have fetched an estimated £58,000.

Leslie John Cond, 40, Warstock Road, Kings Heath, Birmingham, was sentenced to three years imprisonment at Birmingham Crown Court for operating a large scale manufacturing business dealing in counterfeit games, DVD's, CD's, films and music.

Cond was brought to justice after an investigation and charged with 20 offences contrary to the Trade Marks Act and Video Recordings Act (1984). Cond, who had previous convictions dating back a number of years for similar offences, was apprehended by Birmingham Trading Standards and West Midlands Police on his way back from a computer fair in Bristol when, a short distance from his home, a roadblock was arranged. Searches of his vehicle and his premises revealed the extent of his business with hundreds of orders of blank DVDs and copying equipment prepped for another run of orders.

Michael Rawlinson, managing director of ELSPA commented: "It's clear from the recent successes in bringing to justice those who think they can get away with illegally copying games and profiting from their sale that piracy and counterfeiting doesn't pay. These two cases only go to prove that through patience and diligence Trading Standards, local police and the anti-piracy investigators are making it harder than ever for criminals to operate."

Proceeds Of Crime Act (2002) investigations have commenced in both cases.

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BACKGROUND INFORMATION

James Hunter, of 40, of Brookfield Road, Patchway, Bristol, was caught selling pirated games at Southmead market in Bristol after test purchases were made by an APU investigator. In June 2002, APU investigators witnessed a woman selling illegally copied games at a car boot sale in Cheddar. Her car registration number was enough to link her to Hunter.

Regarding Nicholas James Hunter, anti-piracy officers unearthed cutting-edge copying equipment capable of producing 16 fake CDs every seven minutes, hundreds of pirated games and materials to produce packaging. Hunter used the profits from his illicit copying service to fund a £1,000 a month mortgage despite informing the Inland Revenue he was unemployed.

EDITORS NOTES

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 £540 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:

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