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Posts Tagged ‘infringement’

eBay team helps put counterfeit gang away

The leader of a UK-based gang who made millions selling counterfeit luxury golf kit and other knock-off goods through auction site eBay has been jailed for four years.

Gary Bellchambers and six others ran what is reckoned to be the biggest ever such scam between June 2003 and March 2008. Their fraud was eventually rumbled by a trading standards team at Havering Council, who were put on the trail of the fraudsters by pensioner Christine Manz.

The council team worked with eBay to identify 96,000 bogus transactions including golf clubs, clothing and forged Qantas business class lounge pass cards. The crooks supplied cheap knock-off imitations in place of the promised premium quality kit from US manufacturer Callaway Golf.

Bellchambers, 45, of Rainham, who admitted masterminding the scheme, pleaded guilty to fraud along with co-conspirators Keith Thomas, 49, from Rainham, and Chris Moughton, 56, from Blackpool. Four other suspects in the case were found guilty in a trial last December.

Roy Cottee, 65, and his wife Kay, of Rainham, Essex; Helen Wilson, 28, of Hertford, and Sharron Williams, 48, of West Wickham, Kent joined their three accomplices in the dock for a sentencing hearing at Snaresbrook Crown Court in London on Thursday.

Ringleader Bellchambers was jailed for four years and three months, with a recommendation to spend at least half that time behind bars. Thomas, the scam’s second in command, was sentenced to 16 months in jail, with an order to serve half in custody.

Roy and Kay Cottee were also convicted of conspiracy to distribute Qantas business class lounge cards. Roy Cottee was jailed for 12 months while his wife was handed down a 300 hour community service order.

The other three members of the conspiracy received a combination of suspended sentence and community service orders.

In a statement, eBay UK welcomed the sentences and explained the modus operandi of the crooks. “Bellchambers and his gang of felons used an international network of criminals to open and maintain eBay accounts using a variety of false documentation, bank, credit card and contact details.

“The case which secured today’s convictions was supported by eBay’s Fraud Investigation Team and reinforces eBay’s ongoing commitment to fighting counterfeits.”

eBay’s Fraud Investigation Team worked with Havering Trading Standards for over three years to make sure Bellchambers and his accomplices were brought to justice. Investigators supplied information from suspect eBay and PayPal accounts to their Trading Standards counterparts as well as testifying in court.

Last year eBay trained 1,666 coppers in the UK, and in the last two years has assisted officers in over 9,000 case investigations, resulting in the arrest of 200 suspected criminals.

What use is “fair” under the law of copyright?

January 6, 2010 2 comments

Fair Use is one of those terms that can raise a lot of passion among people. Some people today say that all use should be more or less “fair” and it is unfair for big media companies to try and hassle people. The traditionalists in the crowd say that fair use is merely a small limitation on the rights of copyright owners so that others may use portions of their works for certain purposes.

This is truly one of the fascinating discussions of our times in IP law – but I am not going there today. Later on we will discuss these issues in some depth. Today, since I don’t want you to be charged with copyright infringement when you think your use is fair, I am going to give you the black letter traditionalist view of the law of fair use. Fair enough?

Some uses of a copyrighted work, let’s say a novel, are so useful to society, that copyright law as always recognized the concept of fair use. For example, it would be very difficult to review our novel if the reviewer could not copy, or site for the reader in the review, portions of the copyrighted work. Accordingly, a reviewer under the fair use doctrine has that right.

The idea is that what otherwise would be infringement is excused or privileged because the work is being used for a transformative purpose such as research, scholarship, criticism, or journalism. It is important to remember that fair use is an affirmative defense rather than an affirmative right. This means that a particular use only gets established as a fair use if the copyright owner decides to file and lawsuit. Then, it’s up to you as the defendant to say that your use fits into one of the categories that the law will recognize.

When thinking about whether an alleged infringement should be excused on the basis of fair use, a court will use several factors, including the purpose of the use, the character of the use, the amount and substantially of the portion of the work used, and the effect of the use on the market for the copyrighted work.

In our novel example, it will be fair use for me to take portions of the work and refer to them in my review. We want books to be reviewed and my review (even if it is a bad one) will not damage the market for the book in a copyright sense. If I take the entire file of an ebook version of the novel and upload it for thousands of people to read – well, you know, that’s probably not “fair use.”

When blogging, it’s perfectly cool to take some paragraphs from some one’s blog if you are commenting on them and if you attribute the source. Just to copy the blog, or substantial portions of the blog and palm it off as your own may get you into trouble.

(originally published in The Blogger’s Bulletin)