After being tipped off by the MPAA the feds arrested four members of the prominent BitTorrent release group IMAGiNE earlier this year, all of which have now plead guilty. Jeramiah Perkins of Portsmouth was the last to admit to copyright infringement charges this week. Along with his co-defendants from the now-defunct piracy release group, Perkins faces up to 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Last September IMAGiNE stopped distributing new films. As it was one of the Internet’s leading BitTorrent release groups the hiatus sparked speculation that the authorities were onto them.
A few months later the confirmation arrived that this was indeed the case.
In April, Jeramiah Perkins, 39, of Portsmouth, Va., Gregory Cherwonik, 53, of New York, Willie Lambert, 57, of Pennsylvania, and Sean Lovelady, 27, of California, were all charged with several counts of copyright infringement.
An IMAGiNE Release
The four worked together to cam, rip and release many pirated films to the public, and according to court papers they were fully aware of the legal trouble their activities could land them in.
“You need to realize that IMAGiNE is the P2P top group. I’m actually surprised that we aren’t nailed yet,” Cherwonik told Perkins July last year in a chat.
“I’m not going to jail over this s***,” Perkins replied.
However, a year on it appears that Jeramiah Perkins will have to retract his statement. Perkins pleaded guilty this week to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement.
He now faces a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, plus any damages copyright holders may claim for their alleged losses.
Perkins is the last of the four IMAGiNE defendants to plead guilty and all will be sentenced on different dates during the months to come.
IMAGiNE started in 2009 and the feds started looking into the group early 2010 after they were tipped off by the MPAA. In May 2010 investigators searched the home of one of the defendants, but the group continued to operate after that and even launched their own private BitTorrent site in the same year.
Aside from reproducing and releasing copyrighted films on their private tracker UnleashTheNet they also “capped” films at local movie theaters, an activity Perkins was heavily involved in.
Along with the other defendants who plead guilty in previous months, Jeramiah Perkins is out on bail awaiting his sentencing which is currently scheduled for early 2013.