by Don Groves
A Western Sydney man will remain in jail until at least April 2019 after being convicted of possessing 1.2 million DVDs which would have fetched about $21 million if sold online to unsuspecting customers.
Mosaic Defredes, who had been in remand since April, pleaded guilty to the charges. On Monday the Parramatta District Court sentenced him to an accumulated total of four years and six months, with a three-year non-parole period.
With time served he is due for parole on April 4 2019. He received two years and three months for possession of the infringing DVDS and two years and six months for selling them on eBay. For attempting to obtain a false passport he received three years and six months.
For Defredes' accomplice Allison Daniel, Justice Bennett indicated he intends to impose a cumulated sentence of up to two years and he ordered her to be assessed for an Intensive Correction Order in the community.
The DVDs were seized by Quakers Hill police in 2013 with support from investigators from the Australian Screen Association (ASA). Defredes and Daniel had previously sold more than 65,000 DVDs on EBay, raking in $1.6 million after assembling and packaging the goods at a factory unit in Kings Park.
They pled guilty to jointly participating in a criminal enterprise of possessing thousands of DVDs comprising 251 individual films and TV program titles which were sold via eBay. Penalties for such crimes under the Commonwealth Copyright Act carry a maximum of five years' imprisonment and/or a fine of $90,000 per offence.
ASA assistant managing director Greg Fraser said, "This was a massive commercial scale operation conducted by the accused without any regard to the many legitimate businesses in the area who do their best to provide a quality service, give people an opportunity to earn a living, pay their taxes and play by the rules. It also took advantage of the goodwill of eBay customers who rightly expect that the items they purchase are legitimate and of genuine quality.
"There are no winners in operations such as these. Consumers are being ripped off by not receiving genuine products; small retailers suffer; and the copyright holders and thousands of people that have worked hard to make a film are seeing their proceeds go to criminals."
The sale of counterfeit DVDs is dwarfed by the massive scale of copyright infringement online. In Australia in 2016, more than 74.5 million illegal digital downloads were tracked.
The 1.2 million counterfeit DVDs will be destroyed by court order on a date to be advised.
ASA CEO Paul Muller said, "If you stacked 1.2 million DVDs you would make it halfway to the tip of Mt Everest. By comparison, if you stacked 74 million illegal digital downloads as DVDs end-to-end each year, you would surpass the height of Mt Everest by a factor of 28. This really highlights the enormity of the issue filmmakers have to contend with."
Producer Bridget Callow-Wright of Midwinter Films, whose credits include writer-director Priscilla Cameron upcoming drama The Butterfly Tree, said, "Australian film industry businesses work hard to deliver consumers the best possible film and TV viewing experiences. We make and distribute great films and TV shows, employ people and pay taxes.
"Like any business we get hurt when people operate outside the law, it endangers the health of the entire industry including hard working crews. It affects people at every level and affects our ability to deliver quality experiences for Australian and international audiences."
The film and television industry makes a significant contribution to the Australian economy, directly contributing almost $6 billion annually and supporting 47,000 people in work.