[Techtaffy Newsdesk]

A Pennsylvania 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, says the Department of Justice.

Willie O. Lambert, 57, of Pittston, Pa., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement.  The plea was entered before U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen in the Eastern District of Virginia.  Mr. Lambert faces up to five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release.

Mr. Lambert was indicted on April 18, 2012, along with three other leading members of the IMAGiNE Group, an organized online piracy group. A co-defendant, Sean M. Lovelady, entered a guilty plea to the same charge on May 8, 2012.

According to court documents, Mr. Lambert and his co-conspirators sought to illegally obtain and disseminate digital copies of copyrighted motion pictures showing in theaters.  Mr. Lambert admitted that he went to movie theaters and secretly used receivers and recording devices to capture the audio sound tracks of copyrighted movies (referred to as “capping”).  After obtaining, editing and filtering audio sound tracks and uploading them to servers utilized by the IMAGiNE Group, Mr. Lambert used and attempted to use software to synchronize the audio file with an illegally obtained video file of a movie to create a completed movie file suitable for sharing over the Internet among members of the IMAGiNE Group and others.  Mr. Lambert also admitted that the IMAGiNE group’s conduct resulted in an infringement amount of more than $400,000.

The investigation of the case and the arrests were conducted by agents with ICE-HSI.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Krask of the Eastern District of Virginia and Senior Counsel John H. Zacharia of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.  Assistance was provided by the CCIPS Cyber Crime Lab and the Office of International Affairs in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

This case is part of efforts being undertaken by the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property (IP Task Force) to stop the theft of intellectual property.  Attorney General Eric Holder created the IP Task Force to combat the growing number of domestic and international intellectual property crimes.

This investigation was supported by the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) in Washington.

Upload: 06-25-12