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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 July, 2004, 17:34 GMT 18:34 UK
'World's biggest bootlegger' jailed
Counterfeit music
Purseglove used thousands of illicit recordings
The world's "biggest bootlegger" who ripped off some of entertainment's biggest names, has been jailed.

Mark Purseglove, 33, who pocketed 15m, was sentenced to three and a half years at London's Blackfriars Crown Court on Thursday in connection with the racket.

For at least 11 years he used illicit recordings made by sound engineers and concertgoers to create counterfeit CDs.

Oasis, the Beatles, Eminem, Madonna and the Rolling Stones were among the hundreds of artists targeted.

Purseglove, who lived in a 530,000 flat in Chelsea, west London, got professionally printed covers put on his illegal CDs and sold them at music festivals, shops and online with the help of a worldwide business contacts network, the court heard.

His crimes funded a luxury lifestyle of designer clothes, expensive cars, homes and holidays.

The discs were sold between December 1991 and June 2002 under record company labels such as Criminal Records, Wanted Man, Masquerade and Not Guilty.

This enterprise is by far the largest and therefore the most serious of its particular kind
Judge Timothy Pontius

Earlier prosecutor David Groome has told the court Purseglove sold recordings by every well-known artist in the world.

He regularly printed off impressive colour catalogues and sent them to clients across the globe.

Recordings were made by concert goers and sound engineers, paid to supply unauthorised tapes.

1,500% profits

Copies that cost less than a pound to produce were sold for an average of 15 times that amount and 1,500% profits made Purseglove a multi-millionaire.

In 1997, the FBI set up a classic sting operation for him and other bootleggers, taking them on an all expenses-paid trip to Disneyland with the promise of as many women as they could handle.

In court he remained emotionless as Judge Timothy Pontius told him it was clear his "large-scale criminal enterprise" had "reaped very considerable financial rewards from the manufacture, importation and sale of illicit CDs".

Concerts bootlegged by Purseglove
The Rolling Stones' Voodoo Lounge tour in 1995
David Bowie in Tokyo in 1996
Michael Jackson's Invincible tour in 2001
Prince's Greatest Hits Tour in 2001,
Eric Clapton's Reptile tour in Germany in 2001
Kylie Minogue in Australia in 2001
Madonna's Drowned World tour at London's Earls Court in 2001.
"This enterprise is by far the largest and therefore the most serious of its particular kind to come before the courts," he said.

"Very large numbers of illicit CDs were produced and sold over the years with significant potential loss.

"Not only to recording companies but also to performers and composers."

'A thorn'

The judge said Purseglove had been undeterred by court injunctions and subsequent brushes with the law.

A lengthy custodial sentence was required to punish him, prevent further offending and send out a deterrent to others, he said.

An additional five years would have to be served if assets of 1,827,937 were not paid by the end of March next year.

Outside court, David Martin, of the British Phonographic Industry's anti-piracy unit, said: "We have been after him for 13 years and he has been a thorn in our side throughout that time. "


SEE ALSO:
Millionaire bootleggers jailed
11 Dec 03  |  Berkshire



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