Biggest Piracy Case in U.S. History Gets Its First Conviction

Programmer’s guilty plea in Megaupload criminal complaint is “a significant step forward,” Justice Department attorney says

The Justice Department on Friday announced it has won its first conviction in its long-running criminal complaint against Kim Dotcom and his for providing pirated access to TV shows and movies.

Andrus Nomm, 36, of Estonia, a former computer programmer, on Friday agreed to plead guilty to felony copyright infringement.

“This conviction is a significant step forward in the largest criminal copyright case in U.S. history,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell. “The Mega conspirators are charged with massive worldwide online piracy of movies, music and other copyrighted U.S. works.  We intend to see to it that all those responsible are held accountable for illegally enriching themselves by stealing the creative work of U.S. artists and creators.”

The conviction was announced as the Justice Department continues to pursue the extradition of Dotcom and others from New Zealand, which has granted him resident status.

Nomm’s plea was announced by the Justice Department after being accepted by Federal District Judge Liam O’Grady in Alexandria, Virginia. Under its terms, Nomm will spend one year and one day in jail.

As part of the plea agreement, Nomm said Mega’s activity cost copyright holders more than $400 million and netted the website more than $175 million in profits. According to the Justice Department, Nomm further acknowledged that the site had more than one billion total visits, 150 million registered users and 50 million daily visitors.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said the conviction was the result of years of hard work.

“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 said.

Andrew McCabe, assistant director for the FBI’s Washington field office, said the Justice Department continues to pursue Dotcom and the other co-conspirators named in the original criminal complaint.

“Today one conspirator who infringed upon the work of countless artists, actors and musicians takes responsibility for his actions. We continue to pursue his co-conspirators until they face justice in the American legal system,” said McCabe.

The case stems from complaints by the movie and TV industries over rampant piracy of TV shows and movies.

Nomm was among seven people and two corporations indicted by a federal grand jury on Jan. 5, 2012. A superseding indictment on Feb. 16, 2012 charged the defendants with conspiracy to commit racketeering, conspiracy to commit copyright infringement and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The defendants also are charged with five counts of criminal copyright infringement and five counts of wire fraud.

The indictment alleges that, for more than five years, the Mega Conspiracy operated websites that willfully reproduced and distributed infringing copies of copyrighted works, including some that had not been commercially released.

Dotcom has fought extradition to the U.S. for the charges.

An extradition hearing for him and Mathias Ortmann, Bram Van der Kolk and Finn Batato is set for June in Auckland. Two other co-defendants, Julius Bencko and Sven Echternach, remain at large.