Harsh Justice For U.K. CD Pirate

A man described as one of the world's biggest music pirates has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail.

A man described as one of the world's biggest music pirates has been sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail.

Mark Purseglove, 33, was sentenced today (July 8) at London's Blackfriars Crown Court on charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.K. recorded music industry. Prosecutors told the court that Purseglove had amassed a £6.6 million ($12.2 million) fortune through music piracy over an 11-year period.

Judge Timothy Pontius ordered Purseglove to forfeit all his assets. Those assets -- which include three properties and an Aston Martin sports car -- are worth an estimated £1.8 million ($3.3 million). According to the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), the confiscation order marks a national record for music piracy.

In sentencing, Judge Pontius explained that he "needed to pass a sentence to deter [Purseglove] and others and send a strong message that the courts will provide effective protection of the rights of producers, composers and publishers."

The judge took into account Purseglove's "contempt of previous injunctions" and "repeated flagrant and blatant disregard for the law." Moreover, failure to hand over the assets before a March 31, 2005, deadline would result in a further five-year jail term.

The international music industry welcomes the sentence. "This is an individual who had made an enormous amount of money by ripping off both the music industry and music fans," comments BPI chairman Peter Jamieson. "The result shows that there is no hiding place for these people, and after 10 years of chasing, we've succeeded in bringing him to justice."

Added IFPI head of enforcement Iain Grant, "This kind of sentence sets a good example to the criminals involved in music piracy all over the world , and to the judicial systems which need to deal with them."

Purseglove sold counterfeit discs through an international network of wholesale dealers and at record fairs around the country. Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Pink Floyd and Coldplay were among the hundreds of artists whose music he pirated.

He had also falsely advertised duplicated CDs as rarities through such Internet auction sites as eBay, charging up to £130 ($241) for a single disc, prosecutors told the court.

The BPI had initially launched proceedings against Purseglove in 1991; the trade body had obtained a court injunction after he was caught importing bootlegs into the United Kingdom. He was arrested June 2002 in the United Kingdom after committing numerous piracy-related offenses.