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Jury hands feds first guilty verdict for Web music piracy

Barry Gitarts, allegedly a member of Internet music piracy group, Apocalypse Production Crew, was found guilty for conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement and faces up to five years in prison.

For the first time ever, the federal government has successfully won a jury verdict against someone accused of illegally downloading music, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice.

A jury in Alexandria, Va, found Barry Gitarts, 25, allegedly a member of Internet music piracy group, Apocalypse Production Crew (APC), was found guilty of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement.

Gitarts faces up to five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 and must make full restitution, according to a statement released by the DOJ.

The Recording Industry Assoc. of America (RIAA), which said it helped develop evidence against APC, applauded the jury verdict.

"For the first time ever, a criminal online music piracy case went to trial, and the jury rendered a swift and unanimous verdict," said Brad Buckles, executive vice president for the RIAA. "The crimes committed here -- as well as the harm to the music community -- are severe, and so are the consequences. We congratulate and thank the U.S. Attorney's office for its work on this case."

APC was among the pioneers in music piracy according to the blog TorrentFreak. The group is considered by many to be the first to coordinate pre-release uploading of MP3 files, TorrentFreak reported. Gitarts is accused of participating in the group for nearly a year, the DOJ alleged. The government has convicted 15 APC members so far.

What is different about Gitarts' case is that unlike any of the other APC members, he decided against striking a plea agreement and took his case to court.

What makes APC members different than average Lime Wire users is the group was sophisticated and specialized in releasing copyright music on the Web, according to the DOJ's statement. Gitarts operated a server where APC members stored hundreds of thousands of song files, the DOJ alleged.