Almost eight years ago, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents received information from PayPal concerning a pair of pirate websites called Noobroom.com and Noobroom7.com.
The platforms allowed subscribers to stream movies and TV shows, something that proved of particular interest to the MPAA. The Hollywood group conducted an investigation and it was determined that the sites were distributing copyrighted works without permission from their owners.
Hollywood Tries To Shut Down The Sites
In the summer of 2014, the MPAA (now MPA) sent a cease-and-desist to Noobroom but within days, the site began sending its users to a new site called SuperChillin.com. According to the MPAA, this site – plus two others called Movietv.co and SitPlay.com – were operated by Oregon resident Talon White.
Court documents reveal that after downloading movies from SuperChillin, the MPAA was able to link an IP address to White. The registrant of Sit2Play (which was a near-identical copy of Movietv.co) was listed as White and an associated email address was also linked to him.
White was suspected of being involved in mass copyright infringement, not to mention money laundering offenses, so in November 2018 a judge approved a search and seizure warrant targeting millions in cash and cryptocurrency assets.
A year later, White pleaded guilty to one count each of criminal copyright infringement and tax evasion which had the potential to result in five years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, and three years supervised release on each of the two charges.
After More Than a Year Delay, White Sentenced to Prison
White was originally set to be sentenced during February 2020 but for reasons that likely include the complications caused by the coronavirus pandemic, that took considerably longer than first anticipated.
Nevertheless, last Friday White was sentenced to prison for illegally distributing thousands of copyright-protected movies and television shows and evading taxes on the profits generated by his various illegal sites.
According to the Department of Justice, White profited handsomely from his websites. Between February 2018 and September 2018 alone, he received almost $3m in fees. During the November 2018 search-and-seizure operation, agents seized $3.9 million from his accounts, $35,000 in cash, and more than $1 million in cryptocurrency. White did not properly account for this, however.
Between 2013 and 2017, the now 31-year-old filed false personal income tax returns, underreporting his income by more than $4.4 million and causing a tax loss to the IRS of more than $1.7 million.
One Year in Prison, $4.3m Restitution to the MPAA and IRS
In addition to being sentenced to 12 months and one day in federal prison and three years supervised release, White was ordered to pay $4.3m in restitution to the MPAA and IRS. At White’s plea hearing, it was revealed that the lion’s share of the restitution would be going to the IRS.
On top, White was told he must forfeit all U.S. currency and cryptocurrency seized from his bank accounts. He will also forfeit a house in Newport that was purchased with revenue generated by his piracy operation.