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Man pleads guilty to illegally distributing thousands of UK Top 40 hits following police and music industry investigation

A joint City of London Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) and Performing Rights Society (PRS) for Music investigation has resulted in the conviction of a man who pirated hits by musical superstars including Calvin Harris and Ariana Grande.

Wayne Evans, 38, unemployed from Hodder Road, Liverpool, appeared at Liverpool Magistrates’ Court on Friday 7 October, where he pleaded guilty to two counts of distributing an article infringing copyright and possessing or controlling an article for use in fraud.

He will be sentenced at the same court on 11 November 2016.

Evans was arrested at his home address in Liverpool on 3 September 2015 by detectives from PIPCU, following a joint investigation with the PRS for Music into mass scale online piracy of copyright protected music tracks.

The investigation identified that Evans ignored the necessary licensing and permissions from copyright owners to distribute hundreds of thousands of music tracks through his website He also illegally uploaded UK Top 40 singles to various torrent sites on a weekly basis at the same time as the Top 40 listing was published by the official charts company. Tracks included Ariana Grande’s ‘One last Time’ and ‘I Need Your Love’ by Calvin Harris Feat Ellie Goulding. Along with Top 40 chart songs, Evans specialised in illegally distributing acapella music.

Detective Constable Steve Kettle of PIPCU said: “This result highlights the issue of digital piracy and it’s profound effect on the music industry. In illegally distributing music on an industrial scale, Evans caused significant losses to the music industry. Criminals like Evans aren’t just stealing work from major artists, but also damaging jobs across the music industry that are supported by revenue generated from legitimate sales.”

Simon Bourn Head of Litigation, Enforcement and Anti-Piracy for PRS for Music said: "Music piracy has a severe impact on the livelihoods of the entire song-writing 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 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.”

The term 'Acappella' describes a vocal only track without the instrumental accompaniment.