United States Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan announced today, December 19, 2006, that Scott R. McCausland, a resident of Erie, Pennsylvania, has been sentenced in federal court in Erie to five months in jail, to be followed by five months of home confinement, on his conviction of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and copyright infringement.
United States District Judge Sean J. McLaughlin imposed the sentence on McCausland, age 24.
According to information presented to the court by Andrea Sharrin, Senior Counsel for the Justice Department’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and Assistant United States Attorney Christian A. Trabold, McCausland is one of three defendants convicted to date as a result of Operation D-Elite, a federal crackdown against the first providers (or suppliers) of pirated works to the technologically-sophisticated P2P computer network known as Elite Torrents. At its height, the Elite Torrents network attracted more than 133,000 members and facilitated the illegal distribution of more than 2 million copies of movies, software, music, and games. On May 25, 2005, federal agents shut down the Elite Torrents network by seizing its main server and replacing its log-in web page with the following notice: "This Site Has Been Permanently Shut Down by the FBI and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)." Within the first week alone, this message was viewed over half a million times.
The Elite Torrents P2P network offered a virtually unlimited content selection, including illegal copies of copyrighted works before their availability in retail stores or movie theaters. For example, the defendant supplied the network with the final entry in the Star Wars series,"Episode III: Revenge of the Sith," more than six hours before it was first shown in theaters. In the next 24 hours, it was downloaded from the Elite Torrents network more than 10,000 times.
Prior to imposing sentence, Judge McLaughlin stated that those engaged in online piracy of copyrighted material "are not modern day Robin Hood’s, but rather common thieves motivated solely by the desire to get something for nothing."
Ms. Buchanan commended the various law enforcement agencies who conducted Operation D-Elite, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the FBI, the Department of Justice, the San Diego District Attorney’s Office, the San Diego Police Department, the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, and San Diego County Probation, for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of McCausland.