Member of movie piracy group pleads guilty

Michael P. Tremoglie Jun. 26, 2012, 6:53am

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - A member of the Internet piracy group known as "IMAGiNE" pleaded guilty Friday to copyright infringement conspiracy.

IMAGiNE is an online piracy organization that releases Internet copies of new movies only showing in theaters. Willie O. Lambert, 57 of Pittston, Pa., along with three other leading members, was indicted on April 18.

He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. The plea was entered in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia. Lambert faces up to five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release, according to the Department of Justice.

Co-defendant Sean M. Lovelady entered a guilty plea to the same charge on May 8.

According to the DOJ communique and court documents, Lambert admitted going to movie theaters and secretly using receivers and recording devices to capture the audio sound tracks of copyrighted movies. This process is referred to as "capping."

After obtaining the soundtracks and uploading them to servers utilized by the IMAGiNE Group, Lambert used software to synchronize the audio file with an illegally obtained video file of a movie to create a completed movie file suitable to distribute via the Internet. Lambert said that the IMAGiNE scheme resulted in a profit of more than $400,000.

DOJ said that this investigation was supported by the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center in Washington, D.C. The DOG said the center is "one of the U.S. government's key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy."

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