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Business News (more headlines) 09-02-2012

Leader Of Internet Piracy Group "IMAGiNE" Pleads Guilty To Copyright Infringement Conspiracy

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A Virginia man pleaded guilty to conspiring to willfully reproduce and distribute tens of thousands of infringing copies of copyrighted works without permission, including infringing copies of movies before they were commercially released on DVD, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil H. MacBride and Special Agent in Charge John P. Torres of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI) in Washington, D.C., announced.

Jeramiah B. Perkins, 39, of Portsmouth, Va., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. The plea was entered before U.S. Magistrate Judge Tommy E. Miller in the Eastern District of Virginia. At sentencing, scheduled for Jan. 3, 2013, Perkins faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release.

Perkins was indicted on April 18, 2012, along with three other leading members of the IMAGiNE Group, an organized online piracy group seeking to become the premier group to first release Internet copies of new movies only showing in theaters.

According to court documents, Perkins and his co-conspirators sought to illegally obtain and disseminate digital copies of copyrighted motion pictures showing in theaters. Perkins admitted he took the lead in renting computer servers in France and elsewhere for use by the IMAGiNE Group. He also admitted he registered domain names for use by the IMAGiNE Group, and opened e-mail and PayPal accounts to receive donations and payments from persons downloading or buying IMAGiNE Group releases of pirated copies of motion pictures and other copyrighted works. Perkins directed and participated in using receivers and recording devices in movie theaters to secretly capture the audio sound tracks of copyrighted movies and then synchronized the audio files with illegally recorded video files to create completed movie files suitable for sharing over the Internet among members of the IMAGiNE Group and others. Perkins also admitted the IMAGiNE Group's conduct resulted in a readily provable and reasonably foreseeable infringement amount of more than $400,000.

Co-defendants Sean Lovelady, Willie Lambert and Gregory Cherwonik each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement on May 8, 2012, June 22, 2012, and July 10, 2012, respectively.

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