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November 17, 2015Norfolk, VA, United StatesIntellectual Property Rights and Commercial Fraud

Operator of music piracy website sentenced to 3 years in prison was second-largest online file sharing website in US

NORFOLK, Va. – A Charlotte, North Carolina, man was sentenced Tuesday to 36 months in prison for reproducing and distributing, without permission, millions of infringing digital copies of copyrighted works, including copies of popular songs and albums before they were commercially available. This case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Rocky P. Ouprasith, 23, was also sentenced to two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $45,288.62, and forfeit $50,851.05. He is the first cyberlocker operator in the U.S. to receive a criminal copyright infringement sentence.

“Ouprasith operated the second largest online file sharing site in the United States, averaging nearly 4.5 million visits per month and resulting in an estimated collective loss of more than $10 million per month to the rightful owners,” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “I believe this sentence reflects the seriousness of the crime and will promote greater respect for the law and property rights of others. I want to thank my prosecutors and our investigative partners for their outstanding work in this case.” 

“HSI is responsible for enforcing federal regulations that exist to protect American businesses from unfair trade practices and intellectual property theft,” said Clark E. Settles, special agent in charge of HSI Washington, D.C. “Online piracy has a serious financial impact to business, which is felt at every level of a transaction – from the producer to the point-of-sales clerk.”

According to court documents, between May 2011 and October 2014, Ouprasith operated, a website originally hosted on servers in France and later in Canada, from which Internet users could find and download infringing digital copies of popular copyrighted songs and albums. Ouprasith admitted he obtained digital copies of copyrighted songs and albums from online sources, and he encouraged and solicited others, referred to as “affiliates,” to upload digital copies of copyrighted songs and albums to websites, including, that were hosted on servers in Russia, France and the Netherlands. These servers hosted hyperlinks to content offered for download on Ouprasith further admitted that to encourage such activity, he agreed to pay the affiliates based on the number of downloads from his website.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, in 2013, was the second-largest online file sharing website specializing in the reproduction and distribution of infringing copies of copyrighted music in the United States. Ouprasith admitted that in 2013 and 2014, he either ignored or pretended to take remedial action in response to complaints from copyright holders and their representatives that his websites contained links to infringing copies of protected songs and albums.

In October 2014, federal law enforcement authorities shut down and, and law enforcement authorities in the Netherlands and France seized file-hosting servers utilized by Ouprasith.

According to court documents, the market value of Ouprasith’s illegally pirated material was more than $6 million.

Ouprasith pleaded guilty Aug. 21.