Wise, Virginia Man Sentenced in Peer-to-Peer Piracy Crackdown
DOJ Seal
October 17, 2006
John L. Brownlee
United States Attorney
Western District of Virginia
BB&T Building
310 First Street, S.W., Room 906
Roanoke, Virginia 24011-1935

Heidi Coy
Public Affairs Specialist
Phone: (540) 857-2974
FAX: (540) 857-2179

Wise, Virginia Man Sentenced in Peer-to-Peer Piracy Crackdown

United States Attorney John L. Brownlee announced today that GRANT T. STANLEY, age 23, of Wise, VA, was sentenced to five months in prison to be followed by five months of home detention for his role in a BitTorrent peer-to-peer (P2P) network previously known as Elite Torrents.

United States District Court Judge James P. Jones also sentenced STANLEY to a $3,000 fine and three years supervised release. The defendant had previously pleaded guilty to a two count felony information charging conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and criminal copyright infringement in violation of the Family Entertainment Copyright Act.

"This is the first criminal enforcement action against copyright infringement on a P2P network using BitTorrent technology," said United States Attorney John Brownlee. "We hope this case sends the message that cyberspace will not provide a shield of anonymity for those who choose to break our copyright laws."

Stanley 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 network known as Elite Torrents. At its prime, 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 theatres. Operation D-Elite is a joint investigation by ICE and the FBI as part of the Computer and Technology Crime High-Tech Response Team (CATCH), a San Diego task force of specially trained prosecutors and law enforcement officers focused on high-tech crime. Federal and state member agencies of CATCH include ICE, the FBI, the Department of Justice, the San Diego District Attorney's Office, San Diego Police Department, the San Diego Sheriff's Department, and San Diego County Probation.

Andrea Sharrin, Senior Counsel for the Department of Justice Criminal Division's Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and S. Randall Ramseyer, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, prosecuted this case on behalf of the government. The Motion Picture Association of America also provided substantial assistance to this investigation.