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U.K. court hands eBay pirate record fine

Bootlegger must pay $109,000

LONDON — A prolific seller of pirate DVDs on eBay has been ordered to pay a record £55,000 ($109,000) under Proceeds of Crime legislation following a judgment at Bradford Crown Court in the U.K.

Peter Spencer, who has already served a jail sentence for his piracy activities, had been the subject of an investigation by the Assets Recovery Agency. The $109,000 was adjudged to be the criminal profit made by Spencer from his pirate DVD sales and is the highest asset seizure to date for a film piracy case brought by industry org Federation Against Copyright Theft.

He must pay the money within 12 months or face a two year prison sentence — with the money still owing and payable to the Exchequer.

FACT brought its own prosecution against Spencer after monitoring his trade in counterfeit DVDs on eBay since 2002. Spencer was sentenced to a six-month jail term in May 2006 at Bradford Crown Court.

In just one day in January 2004 Spencer had over 950 pirate DVDs listed for sale on eBay and FACT’s Internet Investigations Team was able to show that just one title alone, “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King,” made him more than $27,000.

“The use of this legislation to target the criminal profits gained from film piracy in addition to the custodial sentences handed down by the courts is a powerful weapon as this hits criminals hardest — taking away their liberty and their money,” said FACT director general Kieron Sharp. “I hope this result also sends a strong message to those using auction sites such as eBay that they are not immune from prosecution and further action should they trade in counterfeit goods.”