Megaupload Programmer Sentenced to a Year in Prison

Andrus Nomm, one of the Megaupload employees indicted by the United States, has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to a year in prison. Nomm signed a plea deal and admitted that he personally downloaded copyright-infringing files from Mega's sites.

megaupload-logoAfter three years of relative inaction the criminal case against Megaupload and seven of its employees heated up this week.

Just a few days ago the U.S. authorities arrested Andrus Nomm, one of the indicted Megaupload defendants.

The 36-year-old programmer had been living in the Netherlands but came to the States to take a plea deal.

The Department of Justice just announced that Nomm pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement, and was sentenced to a year and a day in prison.

According to the DoJ statement Nomm acknowledged that he “was aware that copyright-infringing content was stored on the [Megaupload] websites, including copyright protected motion pictures and television programs, some of which contained the ‘FBI Anti-Piracy’ warning.”

“Nomm also admitted that he personally downloaded copyright-infringing files from the Mega websites. Nomm continued to participate in the Mega Conspiracy,” the statement continues.

The authorities are happy with their first vistory in this case and are determined to bring the other defendants to the U.S. as well.

“This outcome is the result of years of hard work by our office and our partners from the Criminal Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” U.S. Attorney Dana Boente said.

“The Mega Conspiracy engaged in massive criminal infringement of copyrighted works on the Internet, and we are confident that this case will be a sign to those who would abuse technology for illegal profit,” he added.

Meanwhile, Megaupload’s founder Kim Dotcom slammed the U.S. legal system in a comment, but says that he understands Nomm’s decision.

“The US Justice system: An innocent coder pleads guilty after 3 years of DOJ abuse, with no end in sight, in order to move on with his life,” Dotcom tweeted. “I have nothing but compassion and understanding for Andrus Nomm and I hope he will soon be reunited with his son.”

Megaupload lawyer Ira Rothken told TF that the U.S. authorities might have taken advantage of Nomm. As an Estonian citizen living in a foreign country he was vulnerable, and running out of funds.

“The DOJ apparently used Andrus Nomm’s weak financial condition and inability to fight back to manufacture a hollywood style publicity stunt in the form of a scripted guilty plea in court,” Rothken says.

“The facts mentioned in court, like a lack of cloud filtering of copyrighted works, are civil secondary copyright issues not criminal issues,” he adds.

According to Rothken the “publicity stunt” reveals how weak the DoJ’s case is.

“The DOJ apparently convinced Andrus Nomm to say the conclusory phrase that Kim Dotcom ‘did not care about protecting copyrights’ and such point shows off the weakness in the DOJ’s case as Megaupload, amongst many other ways of caring, had a robust copyright notice and takedown system which gave direct delete access to major content owners and from which millions of links were removed.”

Nomm’s sentencing for criminal copyright infringement is raising eyebrows among several experts.

In the indictment there was only one example of possible copyright infringement, and that referred to watching a copy of a pirated TV-show. For now it remains unclear what other evidence the authorities have.

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