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Friday, May 25, 2012

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Maryland Man Pleads Guilty to Copyright Infringement
For Reproducing and Distributing Movies Without Permission
- Copied Movies, Then Distributed Them at a Northwest Washington Market -

     WASHINGTON - John M. Harris, 34, of Bryans Road, Maryland, pled guilty today to a federal charge of copyright infringement for reproducing motion pictures without the permission of the copyright owners and then distributing them to vendors in the District of Columbia.

     The guilty plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. and John P. Torres, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Field Office in Washington, D.C.

     Harris pled guilty this afternoon before the Honorable Magistrate Judge Alan Kay in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He is to be sentenced on Aug. 17, 2012, by the Honorable Senior Judge Thomas F. Hogan. The charge carries a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

     According to evidence presented to the Court by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri L. Schornstein, Harris made copies of the motion pictures from June until October of 2011, using his own equipment and operating a factory from his residence. He admitted making 10 or more copies of three movies: Kung Fu Panda 2, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Bridesmaids.

     Harris also admitted selling the motion pictures he created to vendors at the Florida Avenue/D.C. Farmer’s Market, in the 500 block of Neal Place NW.

     Dream Works Animation owns the copyright to Kung Fu Panda 2, Walt Disney Studios owns the copyright of Pirates of the Caribbean, and Universal Pictures Corporation owns the copyright for Bridesmaids.

     On Oct. 8, 2011, ICE-HSI Special Agents executed a search of Harris’s residence and seized more than 1,100 infringing copies of motion pictures as well as computers and other equipment. The copies of the films are valued at more than $20,000. Pursuant to federal law, it is anticipated that at the time of sentencing, the Court will order all of the infringing copies destroyed.

     “John Harris churned out and sold pirated movies on an assembly-line scale,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “His crimes took money out of the pockets of the hard-working Americans who create the movies that we love. Copyright crimes may seem victimless, but they in fact kill American jobs, which makes it important to go after those who seek to profit from other people’s labor.”

     “As the new anti-piracy warning launched earlier this month states, piracy is not a victimless crime,” said Special Agent in Charge Torres. “Piracy and other types of intellectual property rights theft threaten legitimate businesses and American jobs, which negatively impacts the economy.”

     In announcing the guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Machen and Special Agent in Charge Torres thanked the Special Agents who worked on the case, as well as Legal Assistant Lenisse Edloe of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. They also expressed appreciation to the Motion Picture Association of America, particularly the late William “Bill” Shannon, Deputy Director, U.S. Anti-Piracy Program, for their support and cooperation. Finally they thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri L. Schornstein, who is prosecuting the case.





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