The U.K. music industry is welcoming a landmark court verdict which could prove vital as it steps up its fight against copyright crime.

Wendy Fair Markets Ltd directors Nicholas Hobday and Sally Ward, together with the company itself, were found guilty on July 24 of money laundering charges. Sentencing will take place in September.

Labels' association the BPI say the verdict is significant as all previous commercial piracy cases have been brought against sellers or distributors, rather than the market owners themselves.

It also marks the first time a market operator has been convicted of accepting -- in the form of pitch rents -- money it knew, or suspected, had been earned through criminal means.

The case was brought by Hertfordshire Trading Standards after the defendants and company were found to be benefiting financially from the sale of counterfeit DVDs, CDs, and computer software at Hemel Hempstead's Bovingdon Market in Hertfordshire.

"Most markets and car boot sales operate a strict no-fakes policy, but a significant number of owners still turn a blind eye to rampant counterfeiting and piracy, whilst raking in the profits," said BPI anti-piracy manager David Wood in a statement.

"It is plainly wrong that rogue market and car boot sale owners are able generate huge profits from criminal trade that takes place blatantly and openly under their noses. This ruling, we hope, will send a clear message to these market owners that they need to clean up their act or face prosecution."

The verdict follows a seven-week trial at St. Albans Crown Court in Hertfordshire, England.

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