Torrent-using pirates are spoilt these days.
Browsing any kind of torrent search index site and apart from being bombarded with adverts, you have quite the selection. Do you want your movie as a DVD-rip, Blu-ray, or do you want to download the movie that's just hit your cinema's shores?
The latter option is made available by groups like IMAGINE, who sneak recording equipment into cinemas and secretly record the footage for uploading later. These files are then shared across torrent technology, where 'seeders' host the full file, and 'leechers' download fragments from host sources to acquire the fie.
It's become a next-to-impossible task to stamp out the pirate community, but for record labels and groups like the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), a more successful way of hampering illegal file-sharers is to go directly for the source -- including groups who provide CAM movies.
In the case of Jeramiah Perkins, 40, of Portsmouth, Va., this is a pretty unlucky tactic -- as it has resulted in the former IMAGINE member being given the longest prison sentence ever imposed within a file-sharing case: five years.
According to sister site CNET, the verdict was overseen by U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen, where Perkins pled guilty to conspiracy to commit copyright infringement through sharing fles including movies, music and games online.
The member of IMAGINE, under aliases including Stash and theestas, is reported to be the leader of the camcorder-wielding group. The group have been distributing files for years, often obtaining copies of movies just released in cinema and before DVD releases. However, it's not all gone to plan, as five members of the group so far have pled guilty to charges, resulting in prison terms ranging from 23 to 40 months. One member of IMAGINE will be sentenced in March, according to Wired.
IMAGiNE's indictment (.pdf) says:
"The conspirators informally identified themselves as the IMAGiNE Group and sought, among other things, to be the premier group to first release to the Internet copies of new motion pictures only showing in movie theaters. It was further a part of the conspiracy to use computer software to digitally refine and to edit the video and audio portions of a motion picture and to combine or synchronize the two components into audiovisual movie files."
U.S. courts are certainly trying to crack down on illegal file distributors, although there does not seem to be a set benchmark for committing the crime. Kywan Fisher was handed a eye-watering $1.5 million fine for sharing 10 movies, Jammie Thomas was found guilty of sharing 24 copyrighted songs and ordered to pay $222,000, whereas a nine-year old "pirate" who downloaded an album had her laptop confiscated; the matter eventually for 300 euros.