Following a complaint filed by the BPI, City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) launched an investigation into UK-based individuals who uploaded unlicensed karaoke tracks to the Internet.
In February 2015, the BPI carried out test downloads of eight ‘pirate’ karaoke albums to which Sunfly Karaoke and Digitop held the rights. In December that year, police carried out raids in several locations, one of which targeted then 60-year-old Steve Mather.
“The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) has dismantled a gang suspected of uploading and distributing tens of thousands of karaoke tracks online, including artists such as Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Kylie Minogue and Kanye West,” PIPCU said in a statement.
Mather was part of Karaoke RG (KRG), a release group specializing in karaoke tracks. On KickassTorrents alone, their account had around 2,150 uploads.
KRG claimed they were servicing a gap in the market by hand-creating their own karaoke titles that weren’t commercially available. However, karaoke companies Digitop and Sunfly Karaoke saw things differently, claiming that the release group’s actions caused them losses of £485,000 and £29,593 respectively.
It’s taken more than two-and-a-half years but PIPCU now reports that after pleading guilty, 63-year-old Mather of Rochdale, Lancashire, has been handed an eight-month suspended sentence for illegally creating and distributing karaoke tracks without permission
“By making these tracks available to the public, this not only impacts upon the businesses involved, but also upon those who work for them by putting jobs at risk and negatively impacting upon the progress of the company,” said Acting Detective Chief Inspector, Nick Court of PIPCU.
“Mather has caused these companies to suffer significant financial losses. We take these crimes and the integrity of the UK creative industry very seriously. We put every effort into protecting their work.”
Kiaron Whitehead, BPI General Counsel said that as the leader of KaraokeRG, Mather caused serious harm to legitimate karaoke companies.
“KaraokeRG’s ringleader Steven Mather liked to use the nickname ‘KaraokeKid’. But, as he has learnt, the internet is not the Wild West,” Whitehead said.
“The BPI is pleased to have supported the City of London Police in their investigation into this case – which serves as a further clear warning and deterrent to music pirates that they will not go undetected and unpunished.”