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Web-based music pirate gets jail time

A man charged with selling hundreds of CD compilations of copyrighted songs over the Internet is found guilty and sentenced to six months in jail.

A New York man was sentenced to six months in jail after being convicted of using the Internet to sell hundreds of CDs that were loaded with unauthorized copies of songs.

Alvin A. Davis, 42, of Brooklyn, was also ordered to pay $3,329.50 for selling pirated music via his Web site. Judge Reggie B. Walton of the U.S. District Court of Washington, D.C., last week sentenced Davis to one year of supervised parole, to be served upon his release from jail, and barred him from using a computer for one year.

Earlier this year, Davis admitted in court to using his site, EmpireRecords.com, to market more than 100 different CDs and cassette tapes featuring compilations of copyrighted materials from various musical artists. Davis was arrested by an undercover FBI agent who purchased more than 200 of the illegal CDs and had them shipped from New York to Washington. The Web site has since been shut down.

U.S. Attorney Roscoe C. Howard Jr. said the verdict should serve as a warning to others who might attempt similar schemes.

"Today's sentence sends a strong message to anyone involved in piracy that there is a significant price to pay for this kind of illegal behavior," Howard said in a statement issued after the sentencing.

According to government evidence, Davis operated the site from July 2000 to October 2002 and featured compilations of rap and rhythm and blues music.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which has been actively pursuing people who use file sharing software to illegally trade music over the Web, on Wednesday issued a statement lauding the jail sentence. Cary Sherman, president of the RIAA, thanked law enforcement officials for holding people responsible for Web-based copyright infringement.

"These cases should put music pirates everywhere on notice," Sherman said. "Trafficking in pirated CDs and other forms of copyrighted music is illegal and can come with stiff penalties.

The RIAA also highlighted a recent case in which four individuals pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement charges the U.S. Attorney's Office in Connecticut brought against them. The four men involved in the case were members of the so-called "warez scene," a Web-based community that illegally distributed thousands of copyrighted music files, including tracks not yet released, to the public.