RealTime IT News

Feds Charge 10 More in Warez Wars

Federal authorities continued their national crackdown on warez dealers this week, charging 10 more individuals with violating the No Electronic Theft Act (NET Act).

The law enforcement campaign is targeted at the "first providers" of pirated online movies, software music and games. The networks operate as the original sources for the majority of pirated works distributed and downloaded on the Internet.

In addition to filtering down to P2P networks, warez groups often are the primary source for the for-profit criminal distribution networks of DVDs and CDs since the digital files can be easily converted to optical disks.

The maximum sentence for violating the NET Act is three years in prison and two years of supervised release. A maximum fine of $250,000 applies to each offense, and a mandatory special assessment of $100 applies for each conviction.

Wednesday's indictments stem from federal raids conducted last June. The strike resulted in the dismantling of at least eight major online distribution networks.

The Department of Justice (DoJ) claims the raids seized pirated works worth $50 million.

Indictments were issued to Matthew Fong, 19, of Miami, Fla.; Matthew Thompson, 22, Lubbock, Tex.; David Siloac, 27, Clinton Township, Mich.; Eric Rolf, 22, Columbia, Missouri; and Phillip Templeton, 24, Kingsport, Tenn.

Also indicted were Ali Ghana, 28, of Irvine, Calif.; Jose Soler, 30, Elmhurst, N.Y.; Donovan Kargenian, 31, El Cajon, Calif.; and Gregory Dickman, 25, Wilmington, N.C.

In addition to violations of the NET Act, Fong was also charged with two counts of criminal copyright infringement by distributing a copyrighted work on a computer network, and aiding and abetting that conduct.

According to the DoJ, the two charges are based on the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, which was signed into law last April. Fong faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison and three years of supervised release.

The law prohibits the infringement of a work being prepared for commercial distribution by making it available on a computer network accessible to members of the public, where the individual knew or should have known the work was intended for commercial distribution.

The indictment also contains forfeiture allegations to forfeit computer and other equipment used to violate the criminal copyright laws.

The ten defendants will be arraigned on the indictment on Feb. 22 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Seeborg in San Jose, Calif.