An indictment returned on April 18, 2012, and unsealed Tuesday charges Jeramiah Perkins, 39, of Portsmouth, Va.; Gregory Cherwonik, 53, of New York; Willie Lambert, 57, of Pennsylvania; and Sean Lovelady, 27, of California; with one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and two counts of criminal copyright infringement. Perkins, Cherwonik and Lambert are charged with two additional counts of criminal copyright infringement, and Perkins and Cherwonik are charged with a sixth count of criminal copyright infringement of a work being prepared for commercial distribution.
Perkins, Cherwonik and Lambert were arrested Tuesday and Lovelady reported to authorities yeterday. The defendants are scheduled to be arraigned on May 9, 2012.
â€œPiracy is outright theft, regardless of the technology or business model used,â€ said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil H. MacBride. â€œLarge-scale copyright infringement is a serious crime that hurts not only those in the entertainment industry but also those who legally pay for that entertainment.â€
According to the indictment, the defendants and their co-conspirators identified themselves as the IMAGiNE Group and sought to become the premier group to first release Internet copies of new movies only showing in theaters.
From September 2009 until September 2011, they allegedly reproduced and distributed over the Internet tens of thousands of illegal copies of copyrighted works. The indictment charges that the group regularly and illicitly obtained copies of the video and audio components of motion pictures showing in theaters and then edited and combined them into one infringing movie file, which thousands of members of the group shared with one another by use of BitTorrent file sharing technology and then released to the Internet.
The indictment alleges that the IMAGiNE Group rented computer servers to host websites that included member profiles, a server called a torrent tracker that assists in communications among members using BitTorrent file sharing technology, discussion forums, a message board and news, rules and other information about making donations to and using the website.
The maximum prison sentence for the charge of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and for each count of criminal copyright infringement is five years in prison.