In what will be seen as a severe warning cast by American regulators against would-be piraters of content, a ‘convicted file-sharer’ in the country has been given a record sentence for his crimes of copyright infringement.
Jeramiah Perkins, leader of the ‘IMAGiNE’ piracy group (recognised as one of the biggest syndicates of its kind online between 2009-11), has been sentenced to 5 years imprisonment sentence by a US District judge.
The sentence came from District Judge Arenda Wright Allen (in Norfolk, Virginia) after Perkins pleaded guilty to copyright infringement. The group, which also contained a number of other key members receiving jail terms (including Gregory Cherwonik (40 months), Willie Lambert (30 months), Sean Lovelady (23 months), and other members still to be sentenced), operated by recording films in movie theatres with camcorders (also audio recording to better synchronise the content), before offering their ‘work’ online.
The court indictment of the group read: “The conspirators informally identified themselves as the IMAGiNE Group and sought, among other things, to be the premier group to first release to the Internet copies of new motion pictures only showing in movie theaters. It was further a part of the conspiracy to use computer software to digitally refine and to edit the video and audio portions of a motion picture and to combine or synchronize the two components into audiovisual movie files.”
IMAGiNE used several rented servers from Canada, France, and the USA, running several websites as a means of distribution of feature films before their home release, with funding for the operation coming from user donations. In spite of all the modernised approaches movie pirates may use, an old-fashioned camcorder job seems to have landed the biggest sentence of its kind for IMAGiNE’s ringleader, but will it be a sufficient warning to people sneaking in cinemas with a flashing light?