SAN JOSE – LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – The United States Attorney for the Northern District of California announced today that a federal grand jury in San Jose returned a six-count indictment charging five individuals with violations of federal copyright laws as part of Operation Copycat, a major federal investigation into online piracy. Twelve persons have been charged and five have pled guilty to date in the investigation.
In the latest indictment, which was returned yesterday afternoon, the following five persons were each charged with Conspiracy to Commit Criminal Copyright Infringement, and for violating the No Electronic Theft Act (known as the “NET Act”) for copyright infringement by electronic means over the Internet:
Moises Nunez, 33, of Glendale, CA
Stephen Brown, 36, of Indianapolis, IN
Oscar Martinez, 25, of San Diego, CA
Paul Aleman, 25, of Minifee, CA
Deston Evans, 21, of Galax, VA
The indictment also contains forfeiture allegations to forfeit computer and other equipment used to violate the criminal copyright laws. The equipment was seized during a federal search warrant executed on June 29, 2005.
The charges stem from the recent 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.
The five defendants will be arraigned on the indictment on December 15, 2005 at 9:30 a.m. before United States Magistrate Judge Richard Seeborg in San Jose.
The maximum penalties for conspiring to violated federal copyright law, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, are five years in prison and three years of supervised release. The maximum penalties for violating the NET Act, in violation of 17 U.S.C. § 506(a)(1)(B), and 18 U.S.C. § 2319(c)(1), are three years in prison and two years of supervised release. A maximum fine of $250,000 applies to each offense, and a mandatory special assessment of $100 applies for each conviction. 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. An indictment only contains allegations and these defendants, as with all defendants, must be presumed innocent unless and until convicted.
Operation Copycat has yielded five convictions to date. On November 14, 2005, Chirayu Patel, 23, of Fremont, California, and one of the site operators for the warez site, pled guilty to conspiring to commit criminal copyright infringement and to violating the NET Act. On the same day, Daniel Van Horn, 32, of Wantagh, NY, pled guilty to violating the NET Act. On October 11, 2005, William Veyna, 34, of Chatworth, California, another site operator, pled guilty to conspiring to commit criminal copyright infringement and to violating the NET Act. On October 3, 2005, Ryan Zeman, 23, of Rohnert Park, California, admitted violating the NET Act. On September 26, 2005, Curtis Salisbury, 19, of St. Charles, Missouri, pled guilty to two charges under the recently enacted “Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005,” including the first convictions in the country for using recording equipment to make copies of movies in movie theaters, and for making a commercially distributed movie available on a computer network accessible to members of the public, when the individual knew or should have known that the work was intended for commercial distribution. As part of each plea agreement, each defendant also agreed to forfeit computer and other equipment that was seized during the federal search warrants executed on June 29, 2005.
These prosecutions are part of a continuing investigation known locally as Operation Copycat, which to date has resulted in formal charges against twelve individuals in the Northern District of California and the execution of more than 40 searches nationwide. Operation Copycat is the local and largest part of the coordinated international law enforcement action known as Operation Site Down, which is targeting online piracy.
More information on Operation Copycat may be found at:
More information on Operation Site Down may be found at:
A copy of this press release and related court filings 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/ (click on the link for “to retrieve documents from the court”).
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 Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher P. Sonderby, Chief of the CHIP Unit, at (408) 535-5037, or Luke Macaulay at (415) 436-6757 or by email at [email protected]