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IMAGiNE Group Faces Counts of Criminal Copyright Infringement

After an investigation by U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit, U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright found members of IMAGiNE Group guilty of criminal copyright infringement. The court found IMAGiNE Group, an Internet piracy circle, guilty of perpetuating an effort to release movies available only in movie theaters. A representative of the Motion Picture Association of America testified that IMAGiNE was responsible for the most expansive effort to release pirated films between September 2009 and September 2011.

Judge Wright sentenced Jeremiah B. Perkins, a leading member of IMAGiNE, to prison and ordered him to pay $15,000 in restitution damages. After prison, Perkins will also face three years of supervised release. Perkins was responsible for recording films in theaters and compiling data into complete movie files to share on the Internet. Perkins admitted to renting computers, registering domain names, and opening email and PayPal accounts to help run IMAGiNE’s operation.

The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (“IPR Center”) within the United States Department of Homeland Security has supported the underlying investigation in this case. This center is one of the federal government’s greatest weapons in the fight against counterfeiting and piracy. The IPR Center works closely with other agencies within the Department of Justice to facilitate information sharing in an effort to establish and enforce initiatives that deter intellectual property theft. This case was part of the IPR Center’s greater effort to hinder and stop the spread of intellectual property theft. Attorney General Eric Holder instigated these efforts in response to the increasing crimes against intellectual property. Additionally, in light of recent news concerning threats of international cyber attacks, these efforts also go a long way towards protecting American consumers, their health, and their safety. Preventing intellectually property theft also protects the American economy by prohibiting outside parties from profiting on American products and intellectual property. The IPR Center aims to increase intellectual property right protections by implementing stricter criminal and civil liability for property right infringements. Additionally, the IPR Center seeks to organize greater coordination among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Finally, the task force aims to refocus efforts on international property right protections by establishing and strengthening relationships with foreign governments.

The IPR Center was also responsible for facilitating an investigation into Hana A. Beshari, founder of NinjaVideo.net. NinjaVideo provided a forum for downloading high quality infringing copies of copyrighted movies and television shows. Beshari pleaded guilty to conspiracy and criminal copyright infringement. She could face up to five years in prison for her role in this intellectual property theft endeavor.

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