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Man sentenced to prison for copyright infringement | U.S. District Court
An Everett man was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 40 months in prison, for two counts of criminal copyright infringement, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. Sang Jin Kim, 37, was indicted in December 2011, and pleaded guilty in July 2012.
Kim operated websites which distributed pirated copies of movies, television shows, software and workout videos via internet download.
Some of the pirated materials were television shows illegally downloaded from Korean broadcasters. The programs were marketed to the Korean community in the United States. U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones also ordered Kim to forfeit $409,776 to the government as proceeds of his crime. Judge Jones said Kim was a “one man wrecking ball” against the industries whose work he stole.
“This defendant operated websites that engaged in copyright infringement on a massive scale,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “By stealing and selling the work of others, he damaged people working in many industries - software and video production companies, musicians and movie companies, even broadcast companies in Korea. All were denied income by his theft.”
According to records filed in the case, a source in Seoul, Korea first alerted U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) that World Multimedia Group Inc. based in Lynnwood, Washington was illegally distributing large amounts of copyrighted material over the internet. An investigation by HSI, involving the use of undercover officers, revealed the company was knowingly posting movies, TV shows, videos and software for download on their websites, without obtaining the rights to any of the materials.
The websites required users to pay them a fee for the downloads, thus profiting by selling pirated material. In interviews with undercover agents posing as interested buyers for the website, Kim said movie companies frequently contacted him about the movies on his site. Kim said when he got these complaints he simply removed them for a period of time. However, Kim said he would put the movies back up a few weeks later. A review by investigators showed that some of the movies on the site were available for download while still showing in theaters and many had not been released on DVD.
“Kim and criminals like him are a direct threat to all of the hardworking people who depend on compensation from copyrighted materials to support their families,” said Brad Bench special agent in charge of HSI Seattle. “Those involved in intellectual property theft don’t invest in product development; they don’t put a premium on product quality or safety. All they do is get rich at someone else’s expense. HSI and the HSI-led Intellectual Property Rights Center are dedicated to pursuing criminals like this defendant whose actions amount to economic sabotage.”
In asking for a prison sentence at the high end of the guidelines range, prosecutors wrote: “Mr. Kim created a one stop shop for pirated content that included music and videos as well as: software, video games, fitness videos, recorded sporting events, television shows, and movies including pre-release movies still in theaters. His ability to market to an immigrant community and offer stolen content from a foreign country magnified his ability to go unnoticed and generate substantial personal profits.”
The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Norman Barbosa. Mr. Barbosa is part of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) enforcement team.