It is often said that people without much knowledge of the topic do not realise the importance of intellectual property and the rights and restrictions that it provides. A stark example of those rights and restrictions has recently been provided, following news that a computer hacker who stole two unreleased Ed Sheeran songs and sold them on the dark web has been jailed for 18 months.
Sheeran himself is no stranger to copyright actions, though he has to date always successfully defended claims of infringement but on this occasion, it was his work that was taken. A 23-year-old man, Adrian Kwiatkowski, from Ipswich got hold of Sheeran’s music after hacking into his digital accounts. The activity was first spotted by authorities in the USA when musicians reported that their accounts were being hacked and their content sold. The IP address was subsequently traced to the UK and the matter was handed to the City of London Police who have a specialist IP crimes unit.
The police were subsequently able to trace the activity to Mr Kwiatkowski and he was arrested in September 2019. Police discovered a hard drive containing 1,263 unreleased songs by 89 artists, including the tracks by Ed Sheeran and the police estimated that Mr Kwiatkowski made £131,000 from his activities. He pleaded guilty to 19 charges including 14 charges of copyright infringement.
This case is perhaps an extreme example but it demonstrates the value of IP and protecting and enforcing your intellectual property. It also shows that in addition to the standard civil remedies available for intellectual property infringement there are often also criminal remedies available and McDaniels Law are able to offer private prosecutions of intellectual property theft.
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