First illegal music file sharing conviction in Scotland

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) has issued a press release announcing that Anne Muir (58) has become the first person in Scotland to be convicted for illegally sharing music files online.

Ms Muir, from Ayr, apparently pleaded guilty at Ayr Sheriff Court in April 2011 to a contravention of section 107(1)(e) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, admitting to having distributed £54,000 worth of copyrighted music files by making them available to others via a 'peer-to-peer' file sharing application.  Her arrest and charge followed an initial investigation by BPI (British Recorded Music Industry) and IFPI (International Federation for the Phonographic Industry).  Police officers subsequently obtained a search warrant for her home in Ayr and seized evidence including computer equipment.

Unfortunately, in commenting on the conviction, District Procurator Fiscal for Ayr, Mirian Watson, succumbed to the music industry's favoured but legally unsound analogy in cases of this kind when she said that "Illegally flouting copyright laws is tantamount to theft and not only deprives legitimate companies and artists of earnings, but also undermines the music industry as a whole."