Liverpool man pleads guilty to illegally distributing Top 40 hits following investigation
A man from Liverpool pleads guilty to online piacy following a PRS for Music and PIPCU investigation
A Liverpool man has pleaded guilty to illegally distributing chart hits online, potentially costing the music industry millions of pounds and depriving the creators of the content fair remuneration for use of their work.
Wayne Evans was arrested at his home in Everton last year on Thursday 3 September, following a joint investigation between PRS for Music and the City of London’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU).
Evans pleaded guilty on Friday, 7 October at Liverpool Crown Court to illegally uploading the UK’s Top 40 singles to various torrent sites as they were announced each week by the Official Charts Company. The 39-year-old was also distributing tracks through his own website, including ‘acappella’ music to be used for DJ-ing and remixing.
Friday’s conviction results from a case that began with a joint investigation between PRS for Music and PIPCU. Sentencing will take place next month, on November 11.
PIPCU is a specialist national police unit dedicated to protecting the UK industries that produce legitimate, high quality, physical goods and online and digital content from intellectual property crime. Funded by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the unit is based within the Economic Crime Directorate of the City of London Police, which is the National Policing Lead for Fraud.
This significant result highlights the issue of digital piracy and its profound effect on the music industry and individual artists whose work is being infringed. Evans distributed Top 40 chart music and ‘acappella’ music on a large scale causing significant losses to the industry and he now awaits sentencing. This investigation demonstrates PIPCUs commitment in tackling the complex issue of online piracy and the importance of working with our industry partners which includes PRS for Music in achieving the strongest and most successful outcomes.
Music piracy has a severe impact on the livelihoods of the entire songwriting community. PRS for Music is dedicated to both licensing and protecting our members’ rights, as well as enforcing against illegal services that are not willing to work with us towards a legitimate licensed model. We are therefore pleased to see the first conviction from our partnership with PIPCU, and we hope that this sends a message to all those involved in such criminal activity, that this is treated as a serious offence and consequences will follow.
This activity forms part of PRS for Music’s continued fight against music piracy on behalf of its members. Recognising the importance of investing in digital tools to help protect works from piracy, PRS for Music launched the ‘Member Anti-Piracy System’ (MAPS), a new anti-piracy takedown tool, earlier this year. Developed in partnership with the Publishers Association, MAPS works by tracking and enabling users to request takedowns of PRS for Music repertoire that are made available to the public on unlicensed and infringing sites. It also allows users to send takedown notices to Google, which has the power to remove search results.
PRS for Music members can contact the PRS Anti-Piracy Unit by emailing for removal of infringements of repertoire on their behalf.
If you believe you know someone involved in intellectual property crime you can report it anonymously to Crimestoppers online or on 0800 555 111.
About the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU)
The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) is a specialist national police unit dedicated to protecting the UK industries that produce legitimate, high quality, physical goods and online and digital content from intellectual property crime.
The unit is dedicated to tackling serious and organised intellectual property crime (counterfeit and piracy) affecting physical and digital goods (with the exception of pharmaceutical goods) with a focus on offences committed using an online platform.
About PRS for Music
PRS for Music represents the rights of over 155,000 songwriters, composers and music publishers in the UK and around the world. As a membership organisation it works to ensure that creators are paid whenever their musical compositions and songs are streamed, downloaded, broadcast, performed and played in public. In 2020, 22.4 trillion performances of music were reported to PRS for Music with £650.5m collected on behalf of its members, making it one of the world’s leading music collective management organisations.
PRS for Music’s public performance licensing is now carried out on PRS for Music’s behalf by PPL PRS Ltd, the joint venture between PPL and PRS for Music.