U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen in Virginia sentenced Jeramiah Perkins, the head of the IMAGINE Group, to 60 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and an order to pay $15,000 in restitution. And Hollywood’s chief lobby group says that’s justice delivered. IMAGINE “was responsible for more than 40% of all English-language theatrical movie theft,” says MPAA spokesperson Kate Bedingfield. “This group was the most prolific English-language movie theft group in history, and shutting it down was a huge step forward in helping to reassure consumers that the movies and TV shows they watch online are legitimate and secure, not stolen. This was a significant victory in the effort to protect the hard work of creators online, and in the effort to protect an internet that works for everyone.”
The Justice Department indicted Perkins and three other defendants last April. He pleaded guilty in August to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement. The nation’s chief law enforcement agency says that from late 2009 to 2011 Perkins led efforts to illegally obtain video files of theatrical movies, and then secretly record and synchronize audio tracks. IMAGINE distributed the pirated films on the Internet, collecting payments and donations from people who downloaded them. Perkins’ co-defendants — Sean Lovelady, Willie Lambert and Gregory Cherwonik — also pleaded guilty last year to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and were sentenced to shorter prison terms. Another co-defendant, Javier Ferrer, pleaded guilty to a similar charge and is due to be sentenced in March.