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Ottawa Record Store Busted For Selling Bootlegs


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It started like any other typical Friday morning for David Nolan, the longtime owner of Legend Records.

That is until his first customers arrived -- Mounties with a warrant to search his Wellington St. business for bootlegs.

They found allegedly unlicensed CDs from Europe. Nolan was arrested and taken in for questioning.

Nolan said he told the truth to members of the RCMP's finance investigations unit.

He said he's sold bootlegged videos and unlicensed CDs, but it's not like it's news.

"I've been selling bootlegs for 30 years," Nolan said yesterday after he was released from police custody.

"I had them on my shelf. I didn't hide them."

Police closed down his shop for several hours, but Nolan said they were polite and just doing their jobs. Still, he described the raid and arrest as "unpleasant."

The RCMP wouldn't say if the raid was part of a larger investigation.

Cpl. Caroline Poulin said Nolan hadn't been charged as of late yesterday afternoon.

She said the investigation is expected to wrap up by the end of next week.

Nolan estimates bootlegs account for about 1% of items sold at the store. He has more than 200,000 records and 8,000 CDs. He said he sells about 100 bootlegs a year.

"I sold bootlegs but I'm not in the business of selling bootlegs," he said. "They were there for the customers."

The way Nolan explains it, someone will videotape a Neil Young concert at Scotiabank Place, for example, and sell it to Legend Records.

The illegal CDs are "rare" European albums that can't be found in North America. He said they're licensed in the U.K. but not in Canada.

His wife, Sandra Nolan, was tending to the couple's second store at Lincoln Fields Shopping Centre when Dennis Miller, an investigator with the RCMP, walked in.

He told her that David had been arrested on suspicion of selling bootlegs.

"I was shocked. Arrested? Honestly, he's the most honest man I know," she said.

She said the RCMP could maybe focus their efforts on something or someone a little more important because it's not like the store is raking in a lot of money selling bootlegs.

"It is illegal ... but everybody does it," she said.

Nolan is done with bootlegs after yesterday's brush with the law.

"There was never a hassle for 30 years. But now that there's a hassle, they're done," he said.



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The Citizen article doesn't make it seem like such a big deal, at least the way I read it.

OTTAWA — The Mounties raided a mom-and-pop record shop on Wellington Street on Friday morning, closing it down for hours as up to 10 armed commercial-crime officers sifted through its inventory on the hunt for bootlegs.

David Nolan, 59, was led out of Legend Records in handcuffs, questioned by RCMP and later released without criminal charges.

Nolan has been selling records for 30 years, and from time to time goes out of his way to track down a rare bootleg for collectors who can’t find the releases anywhere outside Europe. On a really good month he sells only five, he said.

In fact, some of the rare collector items are supplied to him by Canadian distributors who import them from licensed suppliers the world over — including a greatest hits UK release of Ottawa’s own The Five Man Electrical Band.

(It had a bar code, so it was not seized as “evidence.â€)

“There’s vagueness in some of the product and it’s unpleasant to know that you may have been selling something that wasn’t completely above board,†Nolan said Friday.

And because he doesn’t want the “hassle†that comes with being raided again by the Mounties, who had a warrant, Nolan won’t be carrying any more bootlegs, which accounted for only a handful of units in his record — 200,000 — and CD — 8,000 — inventory.

(A bootleg recording is effectively a copy of a recording, or perhaps a concert, that has been produced without consent of the artist or producer.)

“Don’t expect to find any bootlegs here,†said Nolan, noting that the investigators were fair and only doing their job. He agreed to a police interview without a lawyer present because he said he had nothing to hide, and noted that the few bootlegs he had were on the shelf and not tucked away under the counter.

Some customers could been seen ducking down out of the rain and into Nolan’s basement-level shop, only to find the doors locked on what normally would have been a busy Friday morning.

Across town, at the Lincoln Fields shopping plaza, where Nolan and his wife own a wholesale record shop, a Mountie searched the store and found no bootlegs. The officer even looked under and behind the counter, where instead of finding bootlegs, found Sandra Nolan’s lunch, a spinach salad with raspberry dressing and some fruit — blueberries and pineapple — for dessert.

Sandra Nolan let the Mountie look around without showing her a search warrant, she said, because she had “nothing to hide.â€

She was shocked by her husband’s arrest at their Wellington Street location and expressed disappointment that the Mounties kept the shop closed for hours.

“It’s tough to be in business these days. It’s a struggle and Friday is a busy day,†she said.

Nolan said he was grateful the Mounties only shut down the shop for the morning.

The case remains under investigation, and is being headed by the force’s commercial crime and financial integrity unit. Unlike some other police searches in town, investigators did not turn Nolan’s shop upside down and it is now open for business at 1315 Wellington St.

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