News and Press Releases

Downloaded pirated copies of movies, video games and software

November 17, 2006

RYAN PORTER, 31, of Raymond, Washington was sentenced today to two years of probation in U.S. District Court in Seattle after pleading guilty August 14, 2006 to Criminal Copyright Infringement by Electronic Means, and Aiding and Abetting. PORTER pleaded guilty as a result of “Operation Copycat,” an undercover investigation targeting online "warez" groups illegally distributing 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. In addition to the term of probation, PORTER must perform 200 hours of community service.

At sentencing, U.S. District Judge Marsha J. Pechman noted that with the advent of the internet, people across the country are downloading materials and need to be re-educated about intellectual property. Judge Pechman said taking the intellectual property of others is “taking their life’s work ... taking something very precious from someone.” She noted that these downloads don’t just hurt wealthy actors and rock stars, but thousands of people who work in these industries. “Intellectual property and entertainment is something that lots of people work very hard to produce,” Judge Pechman said.

Since July 14, 2005, thirty-seven people have been charged and thirty-three people (including two film critics) have pleaded guilty in connection with the undercover investigation of the “warez” groups. 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. In court documents PORTER admits downloading sixty-eight copyrighted works including Star Wars movies, Microsoft and McAfee Software, and video games such as Medal of Honor and Grand Theft Auto. PORTER downloaded the materials for his personal use, but did not profit by distributing them to others.

PORTER was originally charged in the Northern District of California as part of a continuing FBI investigation known locally as Operation Copycat, which involved the execution of more than 40 searches nationwide on June 29, 2005. Operation Copycat is the local and largest part of the coordinated international law enforcement action known as Operation Site Down, which is targeting online piracy. Mark L. Krotoski is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case in California. PORTER’s case was transferred to the Western District of Washington where Assistant United States Attorney Kathryn Warma handled the prosecution.

Click here for more information on Operation Site Down.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, Western District of Washington, at (206) 553-4110 or Luke Macaulay, Public Affairs Officer for the Northern District of California at (415) 436-6757.

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