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Music pirate convicted in Led Zep bootleg case

Stairway to prison

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A man described as "one of Europe's most notorious music pirates" has pleaded guilty to selling bootlegged recordings of Led Zeppelin gigs after a Glasgow court heard evidence for legendary guitarist Jimmy Page.

Robert Langley's decision to plead guilty to two copyright violation offences and three charges under trademark law brought a premature end to what was expected to be a five week trial at Glasgow Sheriff Court.

Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page testified against Langley at Glasgow Sheriff Court last Friday prior to the defendant's surprise change of plea. He escaped without conviction after three separate trials over similar offences in England, the BBC reports.

Giving evidence, Page testified that he had not authorised the recordings, which he said were of poor quality. He also drew a distinction between fans who swapped recordings and professional bootleggers, such as Langley.

"The legitimate part is where fans trade music, but once you start packaging it up and you do not know what you are getting, you are breaking the rules, legally, and morally," Page told The Scotsman. "There are some of these type of recordings where it is just a whirring and you cannot hear the music."

Langley, known in the trade as "Mr Toad", sold discs featuring illegal recordings of live gigs for between £6 and £300 on his own Silver Rarities and Langley Masters labels. He was arrested by Strathclyde Police after a BPI-organised anti-piracy raid on his stall at a Scottish record fair in February 2005.

The seizure of CDs and DVDs included counterfeit Led Zeppelin material valued at an estimated £11,500, a £220 set of recordings from a Led Zeppelin tour in Japan and a £40 set of a warm-up session in Denmark. It also included an estimated £1,790 of pirated Rolling Stones recordings and a cache of Beatles music valued at £885.

Langley, 57, from Buckingham, was released on bail pending a sentencing hearing scheduled for 30 August. He also faces another hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act in which prosecutors are expected to seek the confiscation of almost £250,000 he's estimated to have made from music piracy.

BPI anti-piracy manager David Wood welcomed Langley's conviction. "Langley was notorious in the trade for the sale and distribution of bootlegs and is another of the major bootleggers to be convicted. He'd amassed a huge personal fortune by ripping off musicians, record labels, music publishers, and the state, but justice has finally caught up with him," he said. ®

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