News

National Archives Employee Pleads Guilty To Copyright Infringement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2012

Baltimore, Maryland - Timajin Nell, age 54, of Suitland, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to criminal copyright infringement involving his sale of unauthorized copies of copyrighted DVD movies and CD music albums..

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Inspector General Paul Brachfeld of the National Archives and Records Administration - Office of Inspector General.

According to his plea agreement, Nell was employed at the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) Archives II building in College Park, Maryland. Beginning in at least February 2009, Nell used his government email address to offer for sale unauthorized copies of: copyrighted DVD movies; pre-release movies (movies available only in the movie theaters); and CD music albums to customers, including other NARA employees.

Nell provided potential customers with lists of at least 1,144 copyrighted movie titles and 971 copyrighted songs available for sale. He used his personal computers and hard drives to illegally reproduce copyrighted materials using special software that overrode the copyright protection on the DVDs. Nell then used his government computer to reproduce more copies of the copyrighted materials. He also used his office to store DVDs, and stored over 8,000 music files on his government computer.

On October 18, 2011, Nell sold an unauthorized copy of a movie to an undercover NARA Office of Inspector General agent at the NARA cafeteria in College Park for $5. On October 25 and 26, 2011, law enforcement officers executed search warrants at Nell’s residence and NARA office, and seized approximately 1,456 pirated DVDs, 447 pirated CDs, 270 commercial DVDs and 178 commercial CDs. At least one computer and one hard drive contained software that overrode the copyright protection on commercial DVDs and contained approximately 172 files each containing a copy of a copyrighted movie that was copied using this software.

The infringement amount based on the total retail value of the copyrighted DVDs and CDs that Nell sold was between $5,000 and $10,000.

Nell faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte has scheduled sentencing for June 8, 2012 at 9:30 a.m.

Today’s guilty plea is an example of the type of efforts being undertaken by the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property (IP Task Force). Attorney General Eric Holder created the IP Task Force to combat the growing number of domestic and international intellectual property crimes, protect the health and safety of American consumers, and safeguard the nation’s economic security against those who seek to profit illegally from American creativity, innovation and hard work. The IP Task Force seeks to strengthen intellectual property rights protection through heightened criminal and civil enforcement, greater coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement partners, and increased focus on international enforcement efforts, including reinforcing relationships with key foreign partners and U.S. industry leaders. To learn more about the IP Task Force, go to http://www.justice.gov/dag/iptaskforce/.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the NARA - OIG for its work in the investigation and thanked Assistant United States Attorney Christen A. Sproule and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann O’Brien, who prosecuted the case.


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