On June 16, 2005 the Colombo Crimes Division OIC had filed a charge sheet against Mananage Susil Dharmapala, a resident of Padukka area in the Magistrate’s Court of Maligakanda for infringing the rights protected under the Intellectual Property Act.
At the end of the trial, the accused was sentenced to a term of 6 months imprisonment suspended for ten years, and to a fine of Rs.500,000.The accused filed an appeal in the High Court challenging the conviction and sentence imposed against him. However, a judgement dated 20th May 20, 2014, the High Court affirmed the conviction and sentence imposed by the Magistrate’s Court. Subsequently, the accused filed a Special Leave to Appeal in the Supreme Court challenging the judgement delivered by Colombo High Court.
The Supreme Court three-judge-bench comprising Justices Yasantha Kodagoda, Priyantha Jayawardena and Gamini Amarasekara affirmed the conviction imposed against the accused-Appellant in respect of first and second counts.
The first count against accused-Appellant is that on or about April 8, 2005, at the Public Library in Colombo 7 situated within the jurisdiction of the Magistrate’s Court, exhibited for sale, gave on rent, or possessed for trading purposes, unlawfully prepared copies of a record named ‘Galana Gangaki Jeewithe’ containing songs titled ‘Yowun Wasanthae’ and ‘Onna Ekoomath’ which are owned and lyrics composed by Sunil Ariyaratne, and thereby committed an offence punishable in terms of section 178(2) of the Intellectual Property Act, No. 36 of 2003.
The second count was filed against the accused-Appellant that he exhibited for sale, gave on rent, or possessed for trading purposes unlawfully prepared copies of a record named ‘Galana Gangaki Jeewithe’ containing 15 songs including the song titled ‘Onna Ekoomath Eka’, of which the
music was composed by, sung, and is owned by Mirihana Aarachchige Nanda Malini, and thereby committed an offence punishable in terms of section 178(2) of the Intellectual Property Act, No. 36 of 2003.
On September 22, 2005, after the charges were read out to the Appellant, he pleaded ‘not guilty’, and accordingly the case was taken up for trial. Witnesses Sub Inspector Roshan Hewawitharana, Sub Inspector Prasad Weeraratne, Prof. Sunil Ariyaratne, Mirihana Arachchige Nanda Malini and Mahagamage Raveendra Mahagamasekera, the son of Mahagamasekara testified for the prosecution.
“Violation of copyrights is an avenue of illicit business activity, which must be condemned. The conduct of the accused-appellant would have certainly caused financial loss to the complainants.
The accused-appellant has for financial gain engaged in selling pirated copies of music CDs. His conduct has been premediated, well organized, fraudulent, and carried out with the objectives of unlawful financial gain for himself, and causing financial loss to the complainants. It has also resulted in depriving the complainants of legitimate financial gain,” Justice Kodagoda said.
Counsel Kapila Suriyaarachchi with Anuradha Bandara and Dilini Wijesekara appeared for the appellant. Senior State Counsel Yuresha De Silva appeared for the respondent.