U.K. licensing organization PPL and trade body the BPI have succeeded in their prosecution of Access All Areas, a company involved in illegally manufacturing and distributing digital audio and video jukeboxes within the U.K. leisure industry.

Gateshead-based Access All Areas was set up in 2001 and never paid U.K. collecting societies PPL or MCPS licensing fees, despite claiming to be fully licensed and using both company trademarks on its Web site.

The company changed names several times and in May 2008, Gateshead Trading Standards executed a warrant on behalf of PPL and the BPI to raid its offices.

All three defendants - Malcolm Wylie, his son Peter Wylie and William Ross - were charged with offences contrary to Section 107 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. They sold or rented audio/video jukebox systems to pubs, clubs and other leisure outlets.

Malcolm Wylie and William Ross pleaded guilty on March 2. Peter Wylie elected for trial and on March 17 was also found guilty. Sentencing will take place at Newcastle Crown Court on July 1. It was a criminal prosecution and each offense carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.

"This is the first joint PPL/BPI prosecution and I am very pleased to see it come to a successful collusion with the conviction of all three defendants," said Richard Stewart, head of dubbing and tariff development at PPL. "The defendants supplied illegal audio/video jukeboxes to the leisure industry since 2001 and in this period had a turnover of over £3 million [$4.6 million]."

PPL said Access All Areas illegally downloaded and supplied over 100,000 audio and video tracks for the leisure industry.

Stewart added: "It was quite apparent from the prosecution evidence that they traded through a series of phoenix companies defrauding not only our members of many hundreds of thousands of pounds of revenue but also deceiving scores of companies across the U.K., including hundreds of licensees who in good faith paid substantial sums to the fraudsters for what they were led to believe was a fully licensed system."

"This result is a fantastic one for both PPL and the BPI," said Fran Nevrkla, chairman and CEO, PPL. "This not only sends out a very clear message that we take determined action to defend our members' rights, but it also shows that by working together we can combine our expertise to achieve the best possible results."

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