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In Mississippi: 15-Year Jail Sentence For Selling Pirated Movies and Music 339

Posted by Soulskill
from the caught-violently-assaulting-copyright dept.
New submitter patella.whack writes "A guilty plea for six counts of selling counterfeit media gets a defendant 15 years in Mississippi. 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 defendant, who had 10,500 pirated discs at home and two prior convictions: one for assaulting a police officer 17 years ago and one for CD piracy that got him a year under house arrest. Says the RIAA: '[This] 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.' Frequently serial criminals? 15 years? I wonder how much of his sentence can be attributed to his priors rather than to other factors."
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In Mississippi: 15-Year Jail Sentence For Selling Pirated Movies and Music

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @05:24PM (#41973603)

    Maybe this career criminal should have stuck to misdemeanors like bank robbery and murder; he would have received an easier sentence.

    • by SomePgmr (2021234) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @05:31PM (#41973699) Homepage
      This kind of thing is ridiculous, and I'm not surprised the RIAA would say something so absurd and disgusting. But one has to wonder, wouldn't you shy away from selling pirated entertainment on physical media after your conviction and house arrest?
      • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @06:19PM (#41974361)
        Well, hey... at least it's a story about actual piracy in the legal sense, rather than just uploading or downloading.
      • by blade8086 (183911) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @09:03PM (#41976035)

        The kind of thing where a repeat, professional, career criminal (aka 'organized criminal') is awarded a tough sentence for manufacturing large amounts of illegal counterfit goods for resale aka establishing his own 'criminal enterprise' ?

        What exactly is the problem here?

        Yes, I agree that some aspects of copyright law are rediculous - but this case, no.

        • by tragedy (27079) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @09:42PM (#41976391)

          The problem is that it's completely non-violent white collar crime being treated as if it were a murder. There are some white collar crimes that can be considered to be in that ballpark, such as Bernie Madoff's giant Ponzi scheme. Of course, the scheme Madoff ran actually did lead to quite a few deaths. It seems very unlikely that the piracy scheme in this case did much more than cost the entertainment industry a relatively tiny amount of money.

    • by HarrySquatter (1698416) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @05:50PM (#41973967)

      Easier sentence for murder? You realize that Federal punishment for second-degree murder is mandatory life imprisonment and first-degree is the death penalty or life imprisonment? Exaggerate much?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @06:00PM (#41974125)

        The average penalty for rape in the U.S. is 11.8 years. OP's specifics may be wrong, but the idea's the same.

      • by icebike (68054) * on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @06:15PM (#41974307)

        Easier sentence for murder? You realize that Federal punishment for second-degree murder is mandatory life imprisonment and first-degree is the death penalty or life imprisonment? Exaggerate much?

        Federal penalties for murder seldom apply unless you cross a state line to commit same, or kill a mailman, and not even then in most cases.
        Its a state charge, and many liberal states have you out on the street in less than 20 years, much less if their prisons are overcrowded.
        (Don't even get me started on time off fir good behavior).

        New York, Albany EDU did a study(pdf-2006) [albany.edu] and found that 20 years (244 months) is the Average maximum sentence imposed by state courts in the US for Murder and Non-Negligent manslaughter.

        Federal District courts in 2004 sentenced people [albany.edu] to an average maximum of 111.2 months.
        Post sentence guideline reform the federal average has increased to the state average, and then some. Figures for 2010 [albany.edu] show an average of 23 years handed down by federal district courts.

        So I don't know where you get that mandatory Life death penalty nonsense.

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          Probably lept from 'felony' right up to what a federal court would impose, not realizing the state would handle it in all but those corner cases.

    • by maz2331 (1104901) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @05:50PM (#41973977)

      I'm no fan of the *AA, but it sounds like the judge made the sentences run consecutively instead of concurrently for each count. I am sure the 10,500 copies ready for distribution had more than a little bit to do with that decision, as well as finding weapons in the posession of a felon (which the Feds might still prosecute, if the state turns over the evidence to the ATF - they could tack on another 5 years).

      And only a true idiot spends years in jail for something, and keeps on doing it, anyway.

    • by ljaszcza (741803) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @05:51PM (#41973993)
      Actually, he should have gotten a job with one of the big banks. Goldman Sachs or such. Lighter sentence yet. Rob a liquor store, get 20 years. Rob 20,000 people of $200,000 in life savings, the feds don't have a case to pursue.
      • Actually, he should have gotten a job with one of the big banks. Goldman Sachs or such. Lighter sentence yet.

        Or just started a multi-national corporation like Apple or Google or Facebook, all of which utilize our society, air-waves, economy, Internet-backbones, etc. yet only pay a tiny fraction of their income taxes.

        Rob a liquor store, get 20 years. Rob 20,000 people of $200,000 in life savings, the feds don't have a case to pursue.

        Rob billions in taxes? You're a fucking national treasure then.

        • by cdrudge (68377)

          Or just started a multi-national corporation like Apple or Google or Facebook, all of which utilize our society, air-waves, economy, Internet-backbones, etc. yet only pay a tiny fraction of their income taxes.

          Good thing for Apple, Google, Facebook, et al that utilizing all those things and paying the taxes that they do (or don't depending on your POV) isn't illegal.

      • Blue collar crime just doesn't pay very well, not to mention all the American scamming jobs that have been outsourced to Nigeria...

  • Three Strikes Laws (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @05:26PM (#41973629)

    These laws are dumb as shit since they make the judge irrelevant, as it takes away the courts power to hand down an appropriate sentence.

    Mississippi is a three strikes state. So this is another "20 years for jaywalking" piece of nonsense.

    • by amiga3D (567632) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @05:31PM (#41973701)

      I gotta say that if you already were busted once for selling pirate media you should be aware they're out to get you. I think it's harsh but I can't feel sorry for him. It's not like he was using it for his own viewing, he was selling it for income.

    • by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @05:36PM (#41973771) Journal

      Three strikes laws should be thrown out as unconstitutional. If you've done your time for the first two strikes, then you've done your time. Any additional punishment for those crimes falls afoul of double jeopardy.

      • by Firethorn (177587) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @05:53PM (#41974019) Homepage Journal

        While I agree that three strike laws shouldn't be, I don't think it runs afoul of double jeopardy and think that it, at most, would violate 'cruel and unusual'. Of course, unusual would be covered by it being state law 'impartially' applied, and 'cruel' is up to the justices of the supreme courts, state and federal.

        You see, double jeopardy is that you can't be tried twice for the [i]same[/i] crime, it doesn't mean that your past crimes can't be used to establish a pattern of behavior when sentencing for a new crime that you have duly been convicted of.

        Even without 3 strike laws, it has been traditionally been a judge's option to increase sentence for a repeat offender. 3 strikes, depending on the state, varies between allowing a judge to increase sentence even more to mandating high minimum sentences. The former is good when you get somebody who's obviously 'criminal scum' that's best kept behind bars even if the individual things he's been caught on are minimal. The latter is a tragedy when you get somebody dumb who does something like stealing a loaf of bread for the 3rd offense, or is still a drug/gambling addict*.

        *Medical condition in my view. It's certainly a more effective way to treat the problem.

      • In California, we just voted to get rid of mandatory three-strikes sentencing [slate.com] for non-violent, non-serious offenders. I'm not uncomfortable to giving someone life for, say, their third rape sentence. I'm extremely happy that we collectively decided to no longer give someone life for shoplifting a loaf of bread.

  • worse than rape (Score:5, Informative)

    by godrik (1287354) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @05:27PM (#41973635)

    "Prison sentences for rape are not uniform. A study made by the U.S. Department of Justice of prison releases in 1992, involving about 80 percent of the prison population, found that the average sentence for convicted rapists was 11.8 years, while the actual time served was 5.4 years. This follows the typical pattern for violent crimes in the US, where those convicted typically serve no more than half of their sentence.[11]"

    source: wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_regarding_rape [wikipedia.org]

    • by Synerg1y (2169962)

      Right... that's cause they get to do the additional time on parole. Who says this guy is going to serve all 15 of his years?

    • Prison sentences for rape are not uniform. A study made by the U.S. Department of Justice of prison releases in 1992, involving about 80 percent of the prison population, found that the average sentence for convicted rapists was 11.8 years, while the actual time served was 5.4 years. This follows the typical pattern for violent crimes in the US, where those convicted typically serve no more than half of their sentence.

      Must be God's will.

    • by steelfood (895457)

      So in Mississippi, 5 DVD's and 1 CD is approximately equivalent to 1.5 rape victims in the eyes of the justice system. That's real good to know.

      Actually, rapists have to be on those sex offenders lists when they get out, which is basically a life sentence. Maybe it's better to compare it to some other crime, like manslaughter.

  • by Nutria (679911) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @05:28PM (#41973653)

    It's not selling pirated movies, it's selling pirated movies on an industrial scale, which is *completely* different from sharing a dozen MP3s.

    • by taustin (171655) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @05:34PM (#41973753) Homepage Journal

      Indeed. And I notice the /. summary, while it mentiones the 10,500 pirated disks they caught him with, doesn't mention the copying equipment. He was clearly in the business of piracy.

      Yeah, it's a long sentence for a white collar crime, but so was Bernie Madoff's 150 years, and many of the same people complaining this is too long complained that Madoff got off too easy.

      It's only a long sentence if you approve of the crime of commercial copyright infringement.

      • by Kjella (173770)

        And I notice the /. summary, while it mentiones the 10,500 pirated disks they caught him with, doesn't mention the copying equipment.

        I thought that was rather obvious when you have 10k discs, seriously who burns that one by one in a CD/DVD burner?

      • It's only a long sentence if you approve of the crime of commercial copyright infringement.

        Well, youre posting on slashdot, so all bets are off.

    • by jon3k (691256)
      And he was a third time offender. Three strikes law, and all.
      • by Kittenman (971447)

        And he was a third time offender. Three strikes law, and all.

        That's it. He didn't get 15 years without the option for selling pirated whatever. He got 15 years for being in trouble with the law - sufficiently - three times.

        He might have got picked up for shoplifting a twinkie, or something, and still got 15 years. But then it wouldn't be here on slashdot...

    • Who sells pirated movies on non-industrial scale? Do you know any one who does? To me, "selling" made it pretty clear what the story was about.

      • by Nutria (679911)

        Who sells pirated movies on non-industrial scale?

        The same kind of people who sell anything on a non-industrial scale? (Low-volume cottage industries do still exist...)

        Do you know any one who does?

        That would require me to know someone who sells pirated movies.

        To me, "selling" made it pretty clear what the story was about.

        Right. But the implied outrage attempts to link this guy with some shlub music sharer.

        • To me, "selling" made it pretty clear what the story was about.

          Right. But the implied outrage attempts to link this guy with some shlub music sharer.

          Could you refer to the phrase that implies the connection with a shlub music sharer. The title clearly does not. How much more clear can it be when it says "selling"

          • by Nutria (679911)

            This is /., where the default assumption is that the Mafiaa is *always* wrong.

            • This is /., where the default assumption is that the Mafiaa is *always* wrong.

              ...and the default assumption is more often then not correct.

    • Agreed but getting 15 years for selling pirated material is retarded.....in fact getting any jail time is just wrong. Confiscate all his shit and smack him with a big fine. Will it stop him doing it, probably not but there have to be better uses for that prison cell.

      As the above post points out this is more time then the average rape sentence.... and no matter how you play it piracy (not the type on the high seas) is NOT worse then rape. Or for that matter a bunch of other violent crimes which have sente
      • by Synerg1y (2169962)

        Ok... I'm anti-RIAA and all, but... this one is real easy to relate to, if he was stealing bikes & selling them for profit, with 2 priors, would it be fair to say he's a career bike thief? I think so.

    • It is 15 years in prison - who cares about the headline?

      Say that this person has sold for a grand total of $100,000.- (street value) merchandise. For that he'll go to prison for 15 years.

      Now look at how much money the mafiaa has withheld and continues to withhold from those who actually create the product they peddle. Are they going to prison as well? If not, why not? If you want to talk about copyright violation on industrial scale I'd say it does not get bigger than what the mafiaa does.

    • This is my first article sumbission to /. Do editors regularly change headlines? There is a huge difference in meaning between the edited headline and the initial wording, IMO. Original wording: "In Mississippi: 15 Year Jail Sentence for Movie and Music Copyright Infringement"
  • However... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @05:30PM (#41973689) Homepage Journal

    I RTFA this morning. This isn't Joe Blow getting a few movies from the pirate bay, this is a counterfeiter. Copyright infringement isn't theft, but I'd say this is, as the criminal is getting the money that should have gone to the movies' producers.

    Also, the guy was imprisoned for the very same offence before, as well as going to prison for some violent crimes.

    This isn't Joe Nerd getting fifteen years for sharing movies, it's Joe Beentoprison making money off of someone else's work.

    • Re:However... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @05:39PM (#41973813) Journal

      All that considered the punishment is still overly severe. 15 years for non-violently misappropriating a couple thousand dollars? The amount that this person "stole" wouldn't even pay for one year of his imprisonment.

      • A couple thousand dollars? When someone has industrial-grade copying equipment and over 10,000 discs of illicitly copied material that is clearly intended to be sold, I seriously doubt there were only a few thousand dollars at stake. It's one thing to share a few songs online. It's something else entirely to sell them for enough profit that you can making a living off of the illegal proceeds.

      • by Firethorn (177587)

        a couple thousand dollars?

        10k discs, if we figure $3/pop*, that's $30k worth of pirated materials, or enough for 'grand theft auto' of a new vehicle. And that was his active stock. Most stores turn that over in, what, about a month? Of course, that would be approximately 60 discs/hour if he was running a retail store, so I figure he was producing/distributing the stuff to street venders who'd actually sell to the public(and rat him out when they're busted for selling forged discs). Figure $1/profit a disc for him - that's $120k

    • I'm sorry, but I don't understand why this would be theft while the usual (somebody/site sharing movies for free) would not.

      The usual arguments for why that isn't theft are, among other:
      1. The product wasn't stolen, they still have it and can do with it what they want - including sell it.
      2. People who download it wouldn't have bought it anyway or at least not at that price, or at that venue, etc. etc.

      Those same arguments still apply here. The only difference is that the guy made money from doing so.

      Then ag

  • So, burn all your CD's and DVDs, go get a life and forget worrying about this mafia outfit entirely. Then they'll have to do like the cops do - "find" some coke or pot they dropped on your property when it turns out you're not actually guilty. Step it up a notch.
  • I wonder how much of his sentence can be attributed to his priors rather than to other factors.

    It's Mississippi. You should be wondering how much of this can be attributed to the cop or the prosecutor suddenly happening upon some money innocently left behind by an RIAA lawyer at one of their meetings. Either of them bought a new boat lately?

  • by AttyBobDobalina (2525082) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @05:31PM (#41973713)
    Because no one would "plead guilty" in exchange for a 15 year sentence. That's not much of a plea bargain. The article mentioned seizures of weapons as well. Missouri has some form of "three strikes" law, which uses the phrase "prior and persistent offender." One wonders whether this sentence was lighter than what might have resulted had he been charged for gun possession.
    • It's possible that the 'weapons' were non-conforming knives, but that could have been part of the plea - drop the weapons charges, he pleads guilty to the piracy.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Something does not add up in the summary because no one would "plead guilty" in exchange for a 15 year sentence. That's not much of a plea bargain.

      Actually it does.

      Every person convicted in this state of a felony who shall have been convicted twice previously of any felony or federal crime upon charges separately brought and arising out of separate incidents at different times and who shall have been sentenced to and served separate terms of one (1) year or more in any state and/or federal penal institution, whether in this state or elsewhere, and where any one (1) of such felonies shall have been a crime of violence shall be sentenced to life imprisonment, and such sentence shall not be reduced or suspended nor shall such person be eligible for parole or probation.

      Assaulting a police officer 17 years ago counts as violent, the year in house arrest was his second strike, this is his third strike so if it went to trial he'd go away for life with no chance of release. Compared to that 15 years is a "good" deal.

  • by mmell (832646) <mmell@hotmail.com> on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @05:32PM (#41973719)
    “This sentencing demonstrates that theft of intellectual property is treated as a serious crime in Mississippi..."

    s/theft of intellectual property/possession of an intellect/

    Fixed it.

  • jailbait... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Yaa 101 (664725) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @05:34PM (#41973757) Journal

    It seems you got more chance to get a minimal sentence when you shoot your procecutor than copy a few disks.

    This sort of imbalances in the judicial system will cost the country dearly in the end.

    • by Dinghy (2233934)

      It seems you got more chance to get a minimal sentence when you shoot your procecutor than copy a few disks.

      10,500 disks is more than a few.

      • by Yaa 101 (664725)

        Shooting somebody is worse than any disks, so yes, a few, compared to your bank manager or other legal thiefs anyway.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @05:36PM (#41973769) Journal

    Everybody must do their part to eradicate criminal scum like this by simply torrenting their pirated media, rather than propping up the repulsive trade in physical copies sold at retail... The Swarm Needs You to fight piracy today!

  • Our government must protect us from those sociopathic individuals would would reduce the potential profits of giant music corporations. I feel safe!
  • Even with prior convictions taken into account we are talking for a financial crime here not a violent one. I wonder if 15 years in prison has any correctional value for someone like him.

      What is the purpose here? To secure the community from the evil he represents or to make sure the producers profit what they should? It seems like he is made to be an example and nothing else.

    For some reason, i can't help but think that this could only happen in the US of A.

  • The right target (Score:3, Insightful)

    by neghvar1 (1705616) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @05:45PM (#41973885)
    These are the people the RIAA, MPAA, etc. should be focusing on and suing for the large sums of money. Not the little sharer that makes no money off downloading media.
  • You should go to jail for the sheer stupidity of BUYING pirated content in the 21st century.

  • Michael Jackson? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frederic54 (3788) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @05:46PM (#41973915) Journal
    Let's say...
    Sell a CD copy of Michael Jackson : 15 years in jail
    Kill Michael Jackson : 4 years in jail

    makes sense...
    • by wcrowe (94389)

      Good one. Wish I had mod points today.

    • by Grayhand (2610049)

      Let's say... Sell a CD copy of Michael Jackson : 15 years in jail Kill Michael Jackson : 4 years in jail makes sense...

      It depends which Michael Jackson album we're talking about. Thriller is only worthy of a five year sentence. Bad is definitely worth at least 10 years and anyone that sells an unsuspecting buyer History would get off easy with 15 years.

  • by wcrowe (94389)

    People still have CDs? Why wouldn't he just have everything on a little lap top and let people hook up with their flash drives?

  • We are never going to be able to bust every pirate, or even enough pirates to serve as a deterrent.

    What we're doing instead is trying to really crucify the ones we catch, as a warning to others. That isn't working because the chance of getting caught is so low.

    Instead, we should view media as a market which had a time period in which to be profitable. Before digital copying was easy, media had a monopoly on the means of its delivery and so was able to make profit.

    Now? It's like advertising: you have to give

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Tuesday November 13, 2012 @06:27PM (#41974497)

    CD piracy conviction. If that had been a year in prison instead he'd be in for life without the possibility of parole, since combined with the 5 year assault conviction he'd hit Mississippi's version of three strikes: http://www.mscode.com/free/statutes/99/019/0083.htm [mscode.com]

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