RealTime IT News

Warez Dealers Headed to Jail

The Department of Justice (DoJ) tightened the noose around warez dealers Friday with the first sentencing of individuals for their Internet music piracy activities.

George S. Hayes, 31, of Danville, Va., was sentenced to 15 months in prison. Hayes pleaded guilty to one count of criminal copyright infringement related to his involvement with the pre-release music group called "Chromance."

Aaron O. Jones, 30, of Hillsboro, Ore., was sentenced to six months in prison and six months of home confinement. Derek A. Borchardt, 22, of Charlotte, N.C., received six months of home confinement.

Jones and Borchardt each pleaded guilty to a single felony count of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement for their work with the warez group "Apocalypse Crew."

Warez dealers are the first providers of copyrighted materials that are illegally released on the Internet. Warez releases make up the majority of downloaded pirated works.

"Federal law enforcement is dedicated to prosecuting online piracy in all forms," U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg said in a statement. "These sentences are part of a concerted federal effort to ensure that pirates cannot hide behind the perceived anonymity of the Internet."

The sentences were the first for those arrested in the DoJ's Operation FastLink, an ongoing federal crackdown against organized online piracy.

According to the DoJ, Operation FastLink has resulted in more than 120 search warrants executed in 12 countries and the confiscation of hundreds of computers and illegal distribution hubs.

To date, the program has yielded 30 felony convictions.