The largest custodial sentence ever to be imposed by a UK court for games piracy was handed down by Cardiff Crown Court yesterday, with a man being sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment for a counterfeiting offence.
South Wales man John Lamb (45) of Llanharan, near Bridgend, pleaded guilty to 30 counts of trademark and video recording offences, covering games, films and business software, after an 18-month operation spearheaded by Torfaen Trading Standards and ELSPA.
Lamb was caught with merchandise worth an estimated quarter of a million pounds, which he was selling over the Internet by sending spam emails around the world from a base of operations in his own property. His lengthy sentence came partially from the fact that after his initial arrest, he recommenced his business and was subsequently arrested for a second time.
"This is the longest prison sentence ELSPA has ever seen handed down to a games pirate," commented ELSPA director general Roger Bennett, "and it is gratifying to see the courts are now taking piracy seriously and enforcing suitably severe sentences."
"Piracy is a criminal offence," he continued, "and as this case demonstrates, anyone involved in the illegal practice of counterfeiting could face not just a fine but the very real possibility of substantial jail time."
The judgement came days after the High Court in London handed down another important verdict in the industry's war on piracy - ruling that the sale, promotion and use of console mod chips is illegal under the UK's implementation of the European Union Copyright Directive laws, which came into effect last October.