- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A Bryans Road man has been sentenced to six months in federal prison and six years of subsequent home detention for making thousands of copies of pirated movies and selling them to vendors at a Washington, D.C., farmers market.
John M. Harris, 35, pleaded guilty to copyright infringement in May in U.S. District Court, according to a release from Homeland Security Investigations, a division of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Federal agents searched Harris’ home Oct. 8, 2011, and seized more than 1,100 illegally copied movies along with computers and other equipment. The pirated films, along with blank DVDs that could have been used to copy more movies, were worth a retail price of $47,000, the release states.
In an interview with investigators, Harris admitted to using DVD towers since June 2011 to burn 600 to 1,000 movies per weekend and selling them for 60 cents apiece to street vendors at a farmers market in the District, the release states.
Harris told investigators he made 10 or more copies of three movies — “Kung Fu Panda 2,” “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Bridesmaids” — along with hundreds of duplicates of other titles.
“John Harris turned his home into a virtual factory, where he churned out pirated movies to make a profit for himself,” U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. said in the release. “He took money that should have gone to many people actually responsible for the entertainment he sold. This prosecution demonstrates our resolve to protecting copyrights on movies and other products from those who want to cash in illegally.”
Harris will be supervised for three years following his release from home detention. The court also required that Harris pay restitution to the copyright holders and ordered the destruction of all infringing DVDs and the forfeiture of all equipment Harris used to make them, including computers and 11 burning towers, each of which could burn 10 DVDs simultaneously.
“Harris and criminals like him threaten the livelihoods of the hardworking people who depend on compensation from copyrighted materials to support their families,” John P. Torres, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Washington, D.C., said in the release. “Those involved in intellectual property theft don’t invest in the product development; nor do they put a premium on product quality or safety. What they do is profit at someone else’s expense. HSI and the HSI-led National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center will continue to target intellectual property pirates and those who traffic in stolen movies for their own profit.”