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Jury Renders Guilty Verdict in First Ever Criminal Online Music Piracy Trial

WASHINGTON -- A jury in Alexandria, Va. rendered a guilty verdict on Thursday in the federal prosecution of a Brooklyn man for conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement.

According to the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (news release attached), the defendant, Barry Gitarts, “was a significant member of Internet music piracy group Apocalypse Production Crew (APC) from at least June 2003 through April 2004. Records and testimony introduced at trial showed that Gitarts, using the alias ‘Dextro,’ paid for and administered a computer server located in Texas that APC group members used to upload and download hundreds of thousands of copies of pirated music, movies, software and video games. Testimony showed that APC acted as a ‘first provider’ or ‘release group’ of pirated content on the Internet. Release groups are the original sources for a majority of the pirated works distributed and downloaded on the Internet.”

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), this is the first time a federal prosecution of an online criminal copyright infringement case primarily featuring music has gone to trial. The jury rendered a guilty verdict after a two-day trial. According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Mr. Gitarts now faces up to five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release as well as being required to make full restitution.

“For the first time ever, a criminal online music piracy case went to trial, and the jury rendered a swift and unanimous verdict,” said Brad Buckles, Executive Vice President, Anti-Piracy, RIAA. “The crimes committed here -- as well as the harm to the music community -- are severe, and so are the consequences. We congratulate and thank the U.S. Attorney’s office for its work on this case and the larger crackdown against the Internet piracy rings that are responsible for leaks of pre-release music weeks and sometimes months before retail release. Groups like APC that specialize in leaking pre-release music are at the top of the piracy pyramid and the efforts of federal law enforcement have dealt a real blow to these kinds of operations.”

ATTACHMENT: U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE OF THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA’S PRESS RELEASE

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The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is the trade organization that supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies. Its members comprise the most vibrant record industry in the world. RIAA® members create, manufacture and/or distribute approximately 85% of all legitimate recorded music produced and sold in the United States.

In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect the intellectual property and First Amendment rights of artists and music labels; conduct consumer, industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies. The RIAA® also certifies Gold®, Platinum®, Multi-Platinum™ and Diamond sales awards as well as Los Premios De Oro y Platino™, an award celebrating Latin music sales.

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