Record labels association the BPI and South Wales Police recently collaborated over a four-year period to close down a major counterfeit operation specialising in Northern Soul records.

Last month, on 30th November 2018 at Newport Crown Court four defendants: Alan Godfrey, Robert Pye, Steve Russell and Chris Price received a range of sentences after entering ‘guilty’ pleas at an earlier hearing.

The convictions relate to the sale of tens of thousands of unauthorised represses of Northern Soul records, a niche market, mainly through eBay and Amazon online trading platforms. Some of those involved already have previous convictions and have served prison sentences for TMA and CDPA offences. 

Commenting on the BPI’s work and on the convictions, BPI General Counsel, Kiaron Whitehead, said:

"These important prison sentences send a very strong message to music pirates around the country. Whether it’s an illegal music website or fake vinyl being sold on eBay and Amazon – The BPI and the Police are watching you and you will be prosecuted. 

“This four-man counterfeit gang were raking in hundreds of thousands of pounds by ripping off genuine music fans and undermining artists, record companies and legitimate record stores.  The BPI would like to thank South Wales Police for their great work in stopping the gang; and I would like to personally congratulate BPI’s Content Protection team for their unfailing perseverance to reduce music piracy.”

Along with BPI officers, South Wales Police carried out a series of warrants at the home addresses of those prosecuted, in the process recovering 55,635 Infringing 7” vinyl records, 26 infringing 10” vinyl records, and 907 infringing 12” vinyl records, as well as 4,678 infringing CDs, 70 infringing music DVDs, and 8 DVD MP3s - the latter containing a total of 5,121 music tracks and 98 albums.  Documentary exhibits, computer equipment exhibits, printed inlays, printed face labels, plain white cardboard /paper record sleeves were also examined, underlining the extent of their endeavours, including the fact they had commissioned the pressing of the vinyl.

The BPI continues to support South Wales Police with a Proceeds of Crime investigation, whilst the case has attracted widespread media interest and coverage, including through the BBC, Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail.

Many record labels, including Universal Music, Sony Music, Warner Music as well as smaller niche labels such as Rollercoaster Records and Ace Records, have been affected by the criminal enterprise of the widespread distribution of unlicensed counterfeit vinyl recordings of 1960’s artists from the musical genre known as Northern Soul.  Music retailers are inevitably impacted by this illegal trade also, along with some customers who may have unwittingly purchased recorded music products they believed to be genuine.

Though still niche in terms of its size within the overall recorded music market, vinyl enjoyed another stellar year in 2016, with over 3.2 million LPs sold – a 53% rise on 2015 and the highest annual total in a quarter of a century.  The depth of this revival is illustrated by the fact that over 30 titles sold more than 10,000 copies in 2016, compared to just 10 in 2015.  LPs now account for nearly 5 per cent of the album market.