SAN JOSE– United States Attorney Scott N. Schools announced that, as part of the ongoing prosecution arising out of Operation Copycat, Brian Verhoeven, 32, of Lansing, Illinois, was sentenced yesterday to one year and one day in prison by United States District Judge Ronald M. Whyte in San Jose. The Court also ordered a three year term of supervised release following the prison term and restitution in the amount of $145,128. He also forfeited computers, duplicators and other equipment used in committing the copyright offenses.
The prosecution was based on criminal copyright charges in two districts; the charges were consolidated in San Jose. On January 17, 2007, defendant Verhoeven pled guilty to two counts in San Jose: one count in the Northern District of California for committing Copyright Infringement By Electronic Means, in violation of 17 U.S.C. § 506(a)(1)(B), 18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 2319(c)(1); and one count in the Northern District of Illinois for Copyright Infringement, in violation of 17 U.S.C. §§ 506(a)(1)(A) and 506(a)(1)(B), 18 U.S.C. §§ 2319(b)(1), 2319(c)(1). The two cases involved separate conduct in both jurisdictions.
According to court documents, and information at the sentencing hearing, defendant Verhoeven used his retail outlets to sell pirated works for profit to others. During the period from 2004 through 2005, defendant Verhoeven obtained on average 100 different copyrighted motion picture titles a month and sold unauthorized copies of the movies in DVD and CD format at his retail store, Another Heaven, and at one of his two sales booths at the Tri-State Swap-O-Rama flea market. Defendant Verhoeven separately downloaded a number of the movies from warez sites, including from warez servers located in the Northern District of California. He downloaded approximately 250 movies from one server; burned (or copied) about twenty-five percent as compact discs and sold them in his retail outlets. Defendant Verhoeven participated in the "warez conspiracy"under investigation during December 2004 to June 2005.
The sentencing is the result of Operation Copycat, an investigation by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office targeting online "warez" groups that illegally distribute newly-released movies, games, software and music. Warez groups are the "first-providers" of copyrighted works to the warez underground - the so-called "release" groups that operate as the original sources for a majority of the pirated works distributed and downloaded via the Internet. Once a warez release group prepares a stolen work for distribution, the material is distributed in minutes to secure, top-level warez servers throughout the world. From there the pirated works are distributed globally within a matter of hours, filtering down to peer-to-peer and other public file sharing networks accessible to anyone with Internet access.
To date, thirty-seven individuals have been convicted as part of Operation Copycat and thirty-eight persons have been charged.
Mark Krotoski is the Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) Unit in the Northern District of California who prosecuted the case with the support of Paralegal Lauri Gomez. Pravin Rao is the Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Illinois who prosecuted the case in that district.