Mum ordered to pay back £140,000 made selling fake band t-shirts on eBay – or go to prison

Johanna Donnelly sold unlicensed merchandise of bands including Foo Fighters, The Stone Roses and Led Zeppelin

A woman has been ordered to pay back the £140,000 she earned from selling fake music t-shirts online, otherwise she faces jail.

Johanna Donnelly sold unlicensed merchandise of bands including Foo Fighters, The Stone Roses, The Stranglers, The Clash and Led Zeppelin and benefited to the tune of £250,000 over a three-year period.

Donnelly used her own website and eBay account to sell the gear to fans using the bands’ trademarks.


When trading standards experts in Newport, South Wales tested some of the t-shirts they found they were not genuine and that Donnelly had used a bogus company name.

The mother said “no comment” to all questions asked of her, Cardiff Crown Court heard. She later pleaded guilty to 20 offences of selling and infringing trademark articles [via the Daily Mail].

Foo Fighters Dave Grohl
Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl CREDIT: Rich Fury/Getty Images

PayPal sale figures for products that infringed copyright amounted to £11,617.26, while another account had sales of £1,283.38. The last sale recorded was one bearing The Clash on May 13, 2019.

The available assets that were recoverable amounted to £141,655, which Judge David Wynn Morgan ordered Donnelly to pay back within three months. If she fails to do so she will serve five months in prison.

Donnelly must do 150 hours of unpaid work and 10 days in rehab.


The news follows Big Hit Music addressing the “unauthorised use” of BTS‘ trademark ahead of the band’s ‘Yet To Come’ concert in Busan last year, where the label said it would crack down on “counterfeit” merchandise.

The statement, written in both Korean and English, was shared on Big Hit Music’s official social media channels last October. The label revealed that it has been taking “strict measures against companies that had been repeatedly producing, selling and distributing products that infringed on BTS’ portrait and trademark rights (‘rights violating products’)”.

Big Hit also announced plans to “conduct on-site inspection[s] and investigation[s] of counterfeit products” at and around the venue of the concert.

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