As a general rule we tend to cover digital piracy issues here on TorrentFreak, but every now and again a copyright-related story appears in the physical realm that makes us sit up and listen.
The news comes from the United States and involves Patrick Lashun King, a man who was involved in the selling of counterfeit movies and music.
According to police, King was arrested at his business in Hazlehurst after an undercover reporter from the Attorney General’s Intellectual Property Theft Task Force managed to buy a total of five copied movies and one music CD from the 37-year-old.
Subsequent searches at King’s work and home addresses turned up computer equipment for copying and a total of 10,500 pirated discs. Police also confiscated weapons although they do not reveal whether they were legally held or not.
The case, which was investigated by the Attorney General’s office and Hazlehurst Police Department, eventually saw King plead guilty to the sale of the five DVDs and one CD. But despite his apparent cooperation, King received the harshest sentence for a copyright infringement offense that we’ve ever seen.
Judge Lamar Pickard in Copiah County Circuit Court ordered King to serve a total of 15 years in jail to be followed by three years supervised release.
“This sentencing demonstrates that theft of intellectual property is treated as a serious crime in Mississippi and highlights the fact that the individuals engaging in these activities are frequently serial criminals for whom IP theft is simply the most convenient and profitable way they could steal from others,” said Brad Buckles, Executive Vice President, Anti-Piracy, at the Recording Industry Association of America.
“We extend our thanks and appreciation to Attorney General Hood for his leadership in IP enforcement and to the dedicated law enforcement officers and prosecutors who worked on the case.”
At this point we should mention that 17 years ago King was sentenced to five years for assaulting a police officer and in 2003 he did serve a year under house arrest for CD piracy. Nevertheless, 15 years seems like a sentence one might associate with particularly serious violent crime, not the copying of digital media.
And when it comes to tough sentences, King is apparently not on his own. Two weeks ago another man, Antwun Sharell Jones, was sentenced to two years in a Mississippi jail for selling a single pirate movie.
Piracy may not technically be theft, but the signs are that judges in the United States believe it’s a worthy equivalent – and then some.