Ohio Man Pleads Guilty to Copyright Infringement (February 20, 2004))
DOJ Seal
February 20, 2004

U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Connecticut
Connecticut Financial Center
157 Church Street
P.O. Box 1824
New Haven, Connecticut 06510
(203) 821-3700
Fax: (203) 773-5376
Contact: Tom Carson
Public Information
(203) 81-3722
Cell: (203) 996-1393

Operation Safehaven:

Ohio Man Pleads Guilty to Copyright Infringement

Kevin J. O’Connor, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut announced that MANPREET SINGH, age 22, of 7339 Craigmere Drive, Middleburg Heights, Ohio, waived indictment and pleaded guilty today to an information charging him with conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. SINGH’S plea of guilty was accepted this morning by Senior United States District Judge Ellen Bree Burns in New Haven.

According to documents filed in federal court, SINGH was a participant in the “warez scene”  an underground online community that consists of individuals and organized groups who use the Internet to engage in the large-scale, illegal distribution of copyrighted software. In the warez scene, certain participants (known as “suppliers”) are able to obtain access to copyrighted software, video games, DVD movies, and MP3 music files, often before those titles are available to the general public. Other participants (known as “crackers”) then use their technical skills to circumvent or “crack” the digital copyright protections. Others (known as “couriers”) distribute the pirated software to various file servers on the Internet for others to access, reproduce, and further distribute.

In pleading guilty, SINGH admitted that he was a member of at least two leading warez groups  “We Love Warez” (“WLW”) and “Phase.” SINGH also admitted that he acted as a distributor or “courier” of pirated software and that he uploaded and downloaded numerous illegal copies to and from warez sites on the Internet.

“Stealing the intellectual property of others is no different from any other form of thievery,” U.S. Attorney Kevin J. O’Connor stated. “It is a priority of this Office and the Department of Justice to protect the intellectual property rights of our nation’s inventors and creators.”

“Software piracy is theft by criminals, plain and simple,” added Robin Avers, Special Agent in Charge of the New England Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. “It is multi-billion dollar thievery, and ICE will continue to target and dismantle those criminal organizations that abuse the internet by facilitating and participating in this activity.”

SINGH faces a possible punishment of up to five years’ imprisonment, three years’ supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000 when he is sentenced by Judge Burns in May 2004.

This case was prosecuted as part of Operation Safehaven, a fifteen-month investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) and the ICE Cyber Crimes Center, in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut and the Department of Justice, Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section (“CCIPS”). This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Shawn J. Chen and CCIPS Trial Attorney Kenneth L. Doroshow.