SAN JOSE – United States Attorney Scott N. Schools announced that as part of the ongoing prosecution arising out of Operation Copycat, another individual was convicted for his role in assisting with the unauthorized camcording of movies in a theater and for violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, bringing the total number of convictions to thirty-six in the case. Thirty-eight persons have been charged to date.
Arshad Madhani, 21, of Duluth, Georgia, was the third person in the case to be convicted for violating a statute which now prohibits the unauthorized copying of a movie in a movie theater using camcorder equipment. At the plea hearing, he admitted that he obtained and distributed many pre-release and new release movies and software, and admitted aiding and directing others in the camming of the following movies from movie theaters: "Elizabethtown," "Firewall," "Benchwarmers," "The Sentinel," "Akeelah and the Bee," "Over The Hedge," "XMen," "Just My Luck," "The Breakup," "Saving Shiloh," "See No Evil," "Cars," "Click," "You Me and Dupree," "Lady in the Water," "Monster House," "Been Rich All My Life," and "Agnes and His Brothers." The infringed movies were made available on a warez computer network accessible to others via the Internet. Defendant Madhani was paid for supplying prerelease movies to others on the warez site, usually through an online account.
In his plea agreement, he admitted that he fulfilled distinct warez roles including serving as (1) a "cammer" by willfully using, and directing others in the use of, audiovisual recording device (such as a camcorder) to make an unauthorized copy of a motion picture that was protected by the copyright laws; (2) an "encoder" (also sometimes referred to as "ripper" and "cracker") by circumventing the technological measures and protections of copyrighted works on the DVDs to prevent unauthorized access and copying and removing and altering copyright management information; and (3) a "racer" by trying to be among the first to obtain prerelease and new release movies before they were publicly available and posting and sharing them with others on the Internet.
Defendant Madhani also admitted violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by removing copyright management information (including the title and other information identifying the copyrighted work, the name of, and other identifying information about, the author of a work, and identifying numbers and symbols referring to the identifying information). This information was removed to induce, enable, facilitate, and conceal further reproduction and distribution of the cammed movie on the Internet. He acknowledged that he knew that if this information had been retained on the cammed movie, then others in the distribution chain could have discovered the camming and infringing of the movies. With the identifying information removed, it would be more difficult to discover their role. Once the copyright management information was removed, he distributed copies of the cammed movies to others on the Internet.
While defendant Madhani is the third person in the case to be convicted for violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), he is the first known person to be prosecuted for violating the DMCA provision for removing copyright management information (under 17 U.S.C. §§ 1202(b)(1), 1204(a)(1)). In Operation Copycat, on February 27, 2006, David M. Fish, 24, of Watertown, Connecticut, and on May 22, 2006, Kevin Smith, of Columbia, Missouri, both were convicted for violating the DMCA by circumventing copy and access security measures that protected copyrighted works (under 17 U.S.C. §§ 1202(a)(1)(A), 1204(a)(1)). :
Defendant Madhani is also the third person in the case convicted under the "camming" statute (for the unauthorized recording of motion pictures in a movie theater). On September 26, 2005, Curtis Salisbury, 19, of St. Charles, Missouri, was the first person convicted in the country under the new statute. He was an employee at the Des Peres Cinema 14 Theater Complex in St. Louis, Missouri, who used a camcorder to make and transmit unauthorized copies of the movies. On April 17, 2006, Susan Rempe, 55, formerly of Salinas, California pleaded guilty to "camming" or unauthorized recording of motion pictures in a movie theater. She was employed at the Century Park 7 Theaters in Salinas, California, and admitted serving as a "cammer" by using audiovisual equipment to make and transmit unauthorized copies of movies, and portions thereof including sound, which were then uploaded to a warez site.
The sentencing hearing for defendant Madhani was set for Monday, December 17, 2007 at 9:00 a.m. before the United States District Judge Ronald M. Whyte in San Jose, California.
The maximum penalties for violating the DMCA, (under 17 U.S.C. §§ 1202(b)(1), 1204(a)(1), are five years in prison, a $500,000 fine, and three years of supervised release. The maximum penalties for the Unauthorized Recording of Motion Pictures in a Motion Picture Exhibition Facility, and Aiding and Abetting, under 18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 2319B(a)(1), are three years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and two years of supervised release. A mandatory special assessment of $100 applies for each conviction. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553. An indictment only contains allegations and these defendants, as with all defendants, must be presumed innocent unless and until convicted.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark L. Krotoski, from the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) Unit, is prosecuting the case, with the support of Paralegal Lauri Gomez. This prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI. The Motion Picture Association of America also assisted in the investigation.