Two members of the Scene release group “Rabid Neurosis” (RNS) have been found not guilty on charges of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement. The case, which emphasized the group’s role in making albums available before the official release date, was the result of a major music piracy investigation in the US.
Last summer four alleged members of the “Rabid Neurosis” were indicted following a multi-year investigation by the FBI. The four were charged with conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, and faced a maximum of 5 years in jail, a $250,000 fine and possible payment of damages to the RIAA.
The case was heard at the Judicial District of Texas last Friday. The authorities claimed that the group was one of the most active music release groups, releasing tens of thousands of albums between 1999 and 2007. The group was believed to have contacts at a CD manufacturing plant in North Carolina, which allowed its members to leak dozens of titles before their official release.
The albums were then shared on so-called topsites and made available to members of other release groups. Among the titles listed in the indictment were Eminem’s ‘Encore’ and ‘How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb’ by U2. The group benefited from this by gaining credit in the Scene, the authorities claimed.
The RIAA, the alleged victim in the case, had hoped to recoup some of the losses allegedly caused by the group but a Houston jury decided otherwise. Both Matthew Chow and Adil Cassim, the alleged leader of the group at some point, were released of all charges and walked away as free men.
“I am relieved by the jury’s verdict and I am grateful to my attorney for his hard work,” Chow said in a comment on the jury’s decision.
Attorney Terry Yates, who represented Chow, commented, “We encountered some extremely complex factual and legal issues in this case. The jury was very attentive during the trial. Their verdict was just.”
Further details on the jury’s verdict have not yet been published. The two other members of RNS that were listed in the indictment pleaded guilty. It is unclear whether or not these two, and two other members that pleaded guilty before, have been sentenced already.