Two year jail term for illegal DVD warehouse ‘shopkeeper’

A man working in an illegal DVD ‘warehouse’ in London, E2 is behind bars after the court heard that 36,000 pirate and 7,000 hardcore pornographic DVDs were found there.

Bao Chen, 30, of no fixed abode, was sentenced on Friday (30 May 2008) at Snaresbrook Crown Court after pleading guilty to offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 and the Video Recordings Act 1984.

The court heard how Tower Hamlets Council’s trading standards officers raided the address on Cornwall Avenue on 5 March 2008 accompanied by the police and the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) and found fake and unclassified DVDs and cover sleeves with a total street value of about £90,000.

Paul Valder, prosecuting for the council, said: “There was no reprographic equipment there – it was effectively a warehouse and Mr Chen was ‘minding the shop’.

“However Mr Chen accepted he knew the DVDs were fake. According to FACT, the loss to the retail industry would have been somewhere in the region of £204,000.”

In mitigation the court heard that Chen had played no part in the sale of the DVDs and that his role was to open boxes and sort them out. The court also heard that Chen had pleaded guilty and had been very helpful to police.

Sentencing, Justice Judge Bing said: “These are very serious offences. The flat in which you were found was a warehouse under the disguise of a residential flat and you played a significant part. If I thought that you personally had substantially gained financially from this then your sentence would have been much longer.”

Tower Hamlets Council’s Lead Member for Cleaner Safer Greener Councillor Abdal Ullah said: “Our trading standards and legal teams work very hard with the police and with FACT to crackdown on the trade of illegal DVDs in the borough. This was a huge result for them all – it was one of the biggest hauls of illegal DVDs we’ve had in the borough.

“People walking round our streets don’t want to be hassled by illegal DVD sellers by having this kind of thing shoved in their faces or worrying that their children are going to see DVD covers featuring pornography.

“Selling fake goods hits legitimate businesses hard and it floods the market with cheaper products making it hard for reputable businesses to compete. On a broader scale, film piracy is making vast profits for organised criminal networks in the UK and worldwide.”

Kieron Sharp, FACT Director General, said, “Thanks to some excellent cooperative working between the Met Police, Tower Hamlets Trading Standards and ourselves we are able to better target premises such as this, reduce the criminal profits made by organised criminal networks and reduce local crime which is a consequence of such activity.”

PS Steve Kennedy said:” This operation highlights the successful partnership between all agencies, which has resulted in the substantial seizure of DVDs. We will continue to work closely with trading standards and FACT as part of our ongoing commitment to deal with this type of crime.”

Chen was sentenced to two years imprisonment for the offence contrary to the Trade Marks Act 1994 for the counterfeiting of the mainstream titles and 12 months for the offence contrary to the Video Recordings Act 1984 for the unclassified pornographic DVDs to run concurrently. A forfeiture order was also made for the DVDs, which will now be destroyed.

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