Criminal Sanctions For Copyright Piracy
by Jonathan Agmon
In the State v. Eliran Perez, on appeal to the Nazeret District Court, the court reduced a sentence of NIS20,000 (~USD5,700) and a guarantee of another NIS10,000 (~USD2,800) to avoid committing another offense, with a sentence of NIS14,000 (~USD4,000) or 4 month in prison. An additional sentence of suspended 6 months in prison was not changed.
The sentence relates to copyright piracy by the accused. The accused sold hundreds of counterfeit music and movie CDs and DVDs. These were sold in a stand, first operated by the accused father and later by the accused himself, until he was told the CDs were counterfeit. The accused stated he did not make any financial gain from operating the stand and the counterfeit goods were all confiscated by the police. The accused admitted guilty and regretted the crimes.
The sentence reduction comes in view of the accused financial difficulties, the fact that when the offences were committed, the accused was a soldier in the army, and had very low income. The accused argued the court acted harshly in view of previous punishment policies in IP relate crimes.
The court stated that policy requires the level of punishment in IP related crimes be high. The court citing the Supreme court in Motion for Criminal Appeal 1091/05 Isawei Mohamed v. State of Israel stated that the extent of the countreiting in Israel is not a side or new phenomenon and should be treated with severity. Counterfeiting damages severely the art of creative originality. The legislature has increased the harshness of offenses and so should the courts.
Despite the desired high level of punishment, the court found several mitigating factors in this case, including the fact that the accused was a soldier replacing his father at the stand when the offenses were committed, his financial situation, that he had no criminal record, he admitted to the crimes and voiced his regret. The special circumstances led the court to reduced the financial potion of the sentence.