National Archives Employee Sentenced for Copyright Infringement

October 12, 2012

Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte sentenced Timajin Nell, age 54, of Suitland, Maryland, today to ten weekends in prison, followed by six months of home detention and two years of supervised release, for criminal copyright infringement involving his sale of unauthorized copies of copyrighted DVD movies and CD music albums.

The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Acting Inspector General James Springs 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. The items Nell sold were not government property.

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.

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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