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Scottish Grandma Given Three Years Probation For Illegal Downloads

Written by Barnaby Smith on June 1, 2011

In a move surely designed as a deterrent rather than a punishment-fitting-the-crime, a 58-year-old grandmother has become Scotland’s first ever conviction for illegal filesharing in a landmark case.

The Guardian reports that nurse Anne Muir was sentenced to three years probation, after she was found to have downloaded more than 30,000 music files, with an estimate worth of £54,000 (AU$83,000). Muir was nabbed after investigations by both the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and the Federation for the Phonographic Industry (FPI).

Muir’s house was then searched, which uncovered computer equipment containing several thousand music files and karaoke files.

In court, she pleaded guilty to breaching the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1998. Her defence was that she did not download the music for financial gain, but for self-esteem issues after a battle against depression.

A spokeperson for the BPI said, “Today the court has recognised that illegal filesharing on a massive scale is a serious matter and has imposed a sentence aimed at preventing such behaviour in future. We would like to thank the Strathclyde police and the procurator fiscal service in Ayr for their diligent work on this investigation.”

However, the leader of the the UK Pirate Party, Loz Kaye, was scathing of the sentence, saying he was ‘hugely dismayed’ by the ‘disproportionate sentence’, as well as, “The evidence should have been properly tested in court. It seems now there is a pattern of rights holders targeting vulnerable people to score quick wins for publicity.”

The UK Pirate Party aims to protect privacy and limit government surveillance of things such as filesharing. They did miserably in their first federal election outing, in May 2010.

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