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Intellectual Property Rights

South Korean sentenced to more than 3 years for copyright infringement

SEATTLE – A 37-year-old South Korean national who formerly lived in Everett was sentenced Friday to 40 months in federal prison for two counts of criminal copyright infringement following an intellectual property rights probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

Sang Jin Kim and his company, World Multimedia Group, Inc., were accused in a December 2011 federal indictment of operating websites that sold pirated copies of U.S. and Korean movies, television shows, software and popular workout DVDs. Some of the shows were recorded directly from Korean broadcasts. Kim pleaded guilty to the charges in July.

During sentencing, U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones called Kim a "one man wrecking ball" against the industries whose works he stole. Jones ordered that the $409,776 seized during the investigation be forfeited to the government.

HSI special agents found that the company and its key officers were making available for download copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright holders. Kim profited from the sales by requiring users to pay a fee for downloads.

"Kim and criminals like him are a direct threat to all of the hardworking people who depend on compensation from copyrighted materials to support their families," said Brad Bench special agent in charge of HSI Seattle. "Those involved in intellectual property theft don't invest in product development; they don't put a premium on product quality or safety. All they do is get rich at someone else's expense. HSI and the HSI-led Intellectual Property Rights Center are dedicated to pursuing criminals like this defendant whose actions amount to economic sabotage."

Kim told undercover special agents posing as potential buyers for the website that he was frequently contacted by movie companies to remove their materials from his site. He said that he would remove the movie then repost it a few weeks later.

Investigators were alerted to Kim's illegal activities by a source in Seoul, South Korea. This led them to two Internet addresses owned by Lynwood-based World Multimedia Group, through which significant quantities of copyrighted material were distributed over the Internet. During the course of the investigation, HSI seized computer servers and two domain names: 82movie.com and 007disk.com.

"This defendant operated websites that engaged in copyright infringement on a massive scale," said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. "By stealing and selling the work of others, he damaged people working in many industries – software and video production companies, musicians and movie companies, even broadcast companies in Korea. All were denied income by his theft."

According to court documents, Kim is wanted by South Korean authorities on charges of bodily injury by robbery and is the subject of an Interpol Red Notice. He currently has an outstanding order of removal issued by an immigration judge in 2005. Upon completion of his federal sentence, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations will seek to carry out the deportation order.

The HSI Attaché Seoul, Korea, provided assistance with the investigation. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property enforcement team prosecuted the case.