Two men were convicted in U.S. District Court here yesterday of charges involving copyright infringement and interstate transport of more than 2,800 "pirated" or bootleg tape cassettes of popular rock 'n' roll and soul music hits!
The jury of eight women and four men returned the verdict after deliberating less than an hour on the 36 count indictment.
The defandants, Leon H. Wais, 56, of Baltimore, and David L.Whetzel, 35, of Winston-Salem, N.C., were allowed to remain free on bond. They are to be sentenced in about a month by Judge L.Green.
The complex of charges grew out of the joint FBI-D.C. police "Triconn" phony fencing operation here last year.
Undercover FBI agent William S.Gandy testified that in June 1977 he met Wais who helped set the prices and arrange deliveries of 2,807 eight-track tapes by Whetzel from North Carolina.
One of the two deliveries was filmed by police hidden in a van in a lot where Whetzel brought 1,040 tapes and sold them to Gandy for $1 each. Gandy said he also paid Wais $100 for assisting in the deal.
The tapes included hits from such well-know albums as "Rumours" by Fleetwood Mac, "Rock and Roll Over," by Kiss and "Go for Your Guns" by the Isley Brothers.
Such tapes normally sell in retail record stores for about $7 or $8 each. Gandy testified to him that the tapes he sold to Gandy for $1 each were bootleg tapes made on recording machines by a group of "housewives" in North Carolina.
Reproduction of a sound recording normally requires a license - which may cost thousands of dollors - from the original owner and copyrigh holder of the recording.
At the trial, prosecutor Stephen R.Sprivack produced a group of recording company officers who testified that neither Wais nor Whetzel had licenses to reproduce the 34 song selections specified in the copyright infringement charges.
O'Kelly Isley, one of the five Isley Brothers, testified that he would have asked $2 million just to license his "Go for Your Guns" album last summer at the peak of its popularity.
Neither Wais nor Whetzel testified at the three-day trial. Nick Addams, attorney for Wais, argued to the jury that only Whetzel - not Wais - received payments for the 2,807 tapes and that Gandy "forced" the $100 gratuity on a reluctant Wais as "bit of masterful staging" for the hidden police camera beause the police "had nothing on Mr.Waisat that time."