Defendant Admitted to Illegally Uploading Software, Music, Movies, a…

Defendant Admitted to Illegally Uploading Software, Music, Movies, and Games

SAN JOSE – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – The United States Attorney for the Northern District of California announced that a second individual charged in connection with Operation Copycat pleaded guilty this morning to copyright infringement by electronic means. Ryan Zeman, 23, of Rohnert Park, California, admitted to illegally duplicating copyrighted movies, games, music, and software over the Internet.

Mr. Zeman admitted that between March and June 2005 he uploaded (among other items) 14 software and movie titles such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, and Austin Powers in Goldmember, to an undercover warez server. According to the plea agreement, the FBI obtained online chat conversations where Mr. Zeman discussed his awareness of the illegality of uploading and downloading copyrighted works.

On September 13, 2005, an information was filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office charging one count of criminal copyright infringement by electronic means and aiding and abetting, in violation of 17 U.S.C. § 506(a)(1)(B), and 18 U.S.C. §§ 2 and 2319(c)(1). The information also alleged certain property seized during the investigation was subject to criminal forfeiture and destruction.

On June 29, 2005, the FBI executed a federal search warrant at Zeman’s residence in Rohnert Park, California. During the search, the agents seized computers and other equipment. In the plea agreement, Zeman agreed to forfeit his interest in a laptop, various CDs and DVDs, a computer tower, and other items listed in the plea agreement.

Mr. Zeman is scheduled to be sentenced before U.S. District Judge Ronald M. Whyte on February 27, 2006, at 9:00 a.m.

Last week, the first defendant in connection with Operation Copycat pleaded guilty to illegally camcording a movie from inside a movie theater, the first guilty plea under the recently enacted Family Entertainment Copyright Act. To date, six individuals have been charged in Operation Copycat.

The charges stem from an undercover investigation targeting online “warez” groups illegally distributing newly-released movies, games, software, and music. “Warez groups” are the “first-providers” of copyrighted works to the warez underground – the so-called “release” groups that operate as the original sources for a majority of the pirated works distributed and downloaded via the Internet. According to court documents, the FBI utilized two original undercover computer servers that were used by members of the warez groups to store pirated works for illegal distribution. Some of the warez members added other servers to the undercover site.

The maximum penalty for copyright infringement is three years in prison, two years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

This prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI and is overseen by the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) Unit. Mark L. Krotoski is the Assistant U.S. Attorney from the CHIP Unit who is prosecuting the case.

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