Operation Has Yielded Thirty-Two Convictions, Including the First Co…

Operation Has Yielded Thirty-Two Convictions, Including the First Convictions in U.S. for Camcording in a Movie Theater and Uploading “Pre-Release” Movies on the Internet

SAN JOSE– LAWFUEL – Press Release Service – United States Attorney Kevin V. Ryan announced that, as part of the ongoing prosecution arising out of Operation Copycat, four individuals were sentenced today and one more pleaded guilty, bringing the total number of convictions to thirty-two. Since July 14, 2005, thirty-seven individuals have been criminally charged as part of the ongoing investigation into online “warez” sites. Thirty-two of those individuals, including two film critics, have been convicted since September 26, 2005.

Colin Roy Jacobson, of Alexandria, Virginia, pleaded guilty yesterday to aiding and abetting criminal copyright infringement by distributing a copyrighted work on a computer network. According to the plea agreement, Mr. Jacobson admitted to the following:

Jacobson, a film critic who wrote for the a website called “DVDMG.com” admitted that he sold advance copies of at least 31 movies to a known warez supplier between July 2001 and June 2005. Mr. Jacobson is the second film critic to be convicted of copyright infringement as part of Operation Copycat.

The first film critic convicted under Operation Copycat, Paul Sherman, of Malden, Massachusetts, entered a guilty plea on May 22, 2006 before U.S. District Court Judge Ronald M. Whyte in San Jose. According to the plea agreement, Mr. Sherman, a freelance film critic for the Boston Herald and other publications, admitted to selling advance copies of over one hundred movies to a known warez supplier between May 2002 and June 2005. For details on the previous 30 convictions, click here for the June 20, 2006 press release.

Additionally, Judge Whyte sentenced the following four individuals yesterday for their involvement in criminal copyright infringement.

Mark G. Carter, II, 29, of Upland, California, was sentenced to 30 months imprisonment, and ordered to pay $34,964 in restitution. Judge Whyte also sentenced the defendant to a three year period of supervised release. On December 12, 2005, Mr Carter pleaded guilty to one count of violating the NET Act and to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. The defendant will begin serving the sentence on October 26, 2006.

Ryan Zeman, 23, of Rohnert Park, California, was sentenced to three years probation, four months home confinement, four months community confinement, and required to pay $120,000 in restitution. On October 3, 2005, Mr. Zeman pleaded guilty to violating the NET Act, 17 U.S.C. § 506(a)(1)(B) and 18 U.S.C. § 2319(c)(1), and aiding and abetting.

Gregory Dickman, 25, of Wilmington, North Carolina, was sentenced to 8 months home confinement, three years of probation and ordered to pay $31,515 in restitution. On April 10, 2006, Mr. Dickman pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit criminal copyright infringement in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 and to violating the NET Act, 17 U.S.C. § 506(a)(1)(B) and 18 U.S.C. § 2319(c)(1), and aiding and abetting.

Johnny Russell, 34, of Spring, Texas, was sentenced to 8 months in a community confinement facility, three years of probation, and ordered to pay a $11,508 in restitution. On April 10, 2006, Mr. Russell pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit criminal copyright infringement in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 and to violating the NET Act, 17 U.S.C. § 506(a)(1)(B) and 18 U.S.C. § 2319(c)(1), and aiding and abetting.

The sentences are the result of Operation Copycat, an investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office targeting online “warez” groups that illegally distribute 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. Once a warez release group prepares a stolen work for distribution, the material is distributed in minutes to secure, top-level warez servers throughout the world. From there the pirated works are distributed globally within a matter of hours, filtering down to peer-to-peer and other public file sharing networks accessible to anyone with Internet access.

Since September 26, 2005, thirty-two individuals have been convicted as part of Operation Copycat. The convictions have included the first under two new copyright statutes, including a new “camming” statute (unauthorized recording of motion pictures in a motion picture exhibition facility) and a new statute for uploading pre-releases on the Internet (criminal copyright infringement by distributing a copyrighted work on a computer network). Other individuals have been convicted for violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which focuses on circumventing copy and access security measures (in contrast to infringement or the reproduction and distribution of copyrighted works), and have pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit criminal copyright infringement and to violating the NET Act.

Mark Krotoski is the Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) Unit who is prosecuting the case with the support Legal Assistants Mimi Lam and Lauri Gomez. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie M. Hinds and paralegal Alicia Chin are overseeing the asset forfeiture matters on the case.

Further Information:

A copy of this press release may be found on the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website at www.usdoj.gov/usao/can.

Electronic court filings and further procedural and docket information are available at https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.

Judges’ calendars with schedules for upcoming court hearings can be viewed on the court’s website at www.cand.uscourts.gov.

All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office should be directed to Luke Macaulay at (415) 436-6757 or by email at [email protected]

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