Digital Piracy - Man convicted in Liverpool for 12 months

On the 7th of October 2017, in Liverpool Crown Court - Wayne Evans pleaded guilty to wilfully distributing illegally copyright protected content over the internet. It is clear that he caused harm, but what of the offence in particular warranted that this man should receive a custodial sentence?

There are questions as to why Mr Evans was arrested and prosecuted specifically, it can be assumed that this individual was already known to the Police at the time for other offences and they had managed to remove a career criminal from harming the public further. We will simply never know.

What is clear, is that the Police in the UK and internationally are attempting to abolish internet piracy through creating an ever increasing hostile environment for those committing these type of offences. It is these co-ordinated attempts that will see vast reductions in similar crimes, and like any crime - if left unchecked it will become un-manageable to deter.

File sharing is illegal. Consumers are aware of this, and as law enforcement catches up with individuals like Mr Evans, guilty of digital piracy, it is now the consumer (supplier) offenders who have become the target for arrest - it is the consumer in turn through torrenting is now the supplier and guilty of a crime.

PRS had reported that Mr Evans had caused in the region of £1,054m in damages against rights holders for that single year, not an unsubstantial sum of money - especially when the extension of his activity is that his course of conduct will continue to damage to livelihoods of those involved extending into the future for many years to come.

This raises the questions of; ‘how damages are calculated?’ and ‘for how long this will affect rights holders after the event?’ - as content that has been distributed now exists online in ‘the swarm’ and is shared with what was reported to be over half a million people, this cycle of losses will continue far into the future.

Calculating ‘causation of means as to damages’ is a practice for those involved in copyright protection, carried out daily - this practice remains unfamiliar to many UK lawyers (those not directly practicing media law), producers and rights holders alike. It is questionable that in the case of Wayne Evans that his defence solicitor David Watson, an HR solicitor from Liverpool, had the relevant experience or understanding of the media industry to represent Mr Evans honestly with integrity.

The assumption from those defending copyright infringers is that the ‘loss of sales’ is not linked to the offence, and that damages claims are based on estimates alone, highlighting the inexperience of lower grade legal council representatives that neither understand the economics of the media industry or have the relative experience to defend such cases. In part, they are simply unqualified.

Life cycles for rights holders content has no glass ceiling, the rights of an individual may be re-licensed or sold to another party in perpetuity, as an example; The ‘Good Schools Guide’ was first published in 1986 and will continue to be re-published no doubt for many years to come, should each time this book is published, the content be torrented as an e-book online and made available to the general public for free this would inevitably destroy the livelihoods of those dependant on the revenue from its exploitation - the publication therefore, would cease to be economically viable.

Therefore you can assume that for as long as the file sharing network exists (perpetually) that the content will continue to be shared illegally.

Robert Croucher of Hatton & Berkeley states;

This is a great win for PRS and the Police, they are making great headway working with companies like MUSO, MaverickEye and Entura to utilise up to the minute intelligence on illegal file sharers…’

and,

‘the UK still remains one of the largest consumers of copyright protected content in the world, file sharing and streaming is no different to shoplifting, digital piracy will inevitably reduce as the risks of pirating illegal content far outweigh the gains, as I’m sure Mr Evans will be thinking this christmas’.