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Intellectual Property Rights

Leader of Internet piracy group 'IMAGiNE' pleads guilty to copyright infringement conspiracy

NORFOLK, Va. — A Portsmouth, Va., man pleaded guilty today 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.

The investigation of the case and the arrests were conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Jeramiah B. Perkins, 39, 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 April 18 along with three other leading members of the IMAGiNE Group, an organized online piracy entity 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 by members of the IMAGiNE Group and others.

Earlier this year, co-defendants Sean Lovelady, Willie Lambert and Gregory Cherwonik each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert J. Krask of the Eastern District of Virginia and Senior Counsel John H. Zacharia of the Justice Department Criminal Division's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section are prosecuting the case. Significant assistance was provided by the Justice Department's Cyber Crime Lab and the Criminal Division's Office of International Affairs.

This investigation was supported by the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) in Washington. The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting (piracy). As a task force, the IPR Center uses the expertise of its 21 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to IP theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public's health and safety, the U.S. economy and our war fighters.