Ballina Shire council election candidate Stephen McCarthy.
Ballina Shire council election candidate Stephen McCarthy.

Ballina canidate a former 'pirate'

LONG before he was a candidate in the Ballina council election, Stephen McCarthy was a pirate - the software kind, not the swashbuckling kind.

In 2008, Mr McCarthy and his brother, Michael, were fined a combined $9000 in the Ballina Local Court over what digital pirate hunter Neil Gane of the Australia Federation Against Copyright Theft described at the time as "a sophisticated DVD piracy operation".

The brush with the law does not appear to have interfered with Mr McCarthy's right to stand for public office.

He said he had spoken with a solicitor before nominating for the election and the Northern Star's own investigations have found no legal obstacle to his candidacy.

Mr McCarthy, a baker, is running for Ballina Shire Council as an independent, on a platform of improving infrastructure while balancing the council's investments.

Mr Gane, at the time of the pair's court hearing, had said the McCarthy brothers had been running a website offering "hundreds of film, music and software titles for sale nationwide".

The website was backed by an operation using 14 DVD burners.

Mr McCarthy, of Ballina, said he and his brother never sold anything through the website and never sold pirated material for cash, instead exchanging pirate DVDs with "a few neighbours" in return for "favours".

The brothers ran foul of the law when they were targeted by a sting operation in March 2007, he said.

Mr McCarthy said he and his brother were contacted by the officer, who claimed to want to buy pirated material.

"We emailed him and said we can't really sell them," he said.

"A week after (on March 21, 2007) that they came to the door and checked everything."

Mr McCarthy said he and his brother were taken to court over a pirated piece of Microsoft software.

"They narrowed it down to one main fine," he said.

The charges had started out at 64 offences, but Mr McCarthy said the prosecutors had agreed to drop 63 of the alleged offences in return for a guilty plea to the most minor charge.



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