Two members of piracy group IMAGiNE get prison terms

Two men who sought a reputation for being first to release in-theater movies to the Internet are headed to prison.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
2 min read
The federal courthouse for the Eastern District of Virginia. Greg Sandoval/CNET

Two members of a group that wanted to be known for being first to release the latest Hollywood films to the Web were sentenced to prison today, the U.S. government says.

Willie Lambert, 57, of Pittston, Pa., was sentenced to 30 months in prison and three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $449,514 in restitution, according to a press release from Neil MacBride, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. MacBride is also the man who's pressing a separate criminal copyright case against MegaUpload founder Kim DotCom.

Sean Lovelady, a co-defendant from Pomona, Calif., received a 23 month prison term and three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $7,500 in restitution. Lambert and Lovelady, who were indicted with two other defendants in April, pleaded guilty to the charges earlier in the year.

According to the government, the case is "part of efforts being undertaken by the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property (IP Task Force) to stop the theft of intellectual property. Attorney General Eric Holder created the IP Task Force to combat the growing number of domestic and international intellectual property crimes."

In a statement, MacBride called the IMAGiNE Group, of which Lambert and Lovelady were members, a piracy ring desiring to become the premier group to "first release to the Internet copies of movies only showing in theaters."

From the government's statement:

Lovelady and Lambert admitted that they went to movie theaters and secretly used receivers and recording devices to capture the audio sound tracks of copyrighted movies (referred to as "capping"). After obtaining, editing, and filtering audio sound tracks and uploading them to servers utilized by the IMAGiNE Group, Lambert and Lovelady used and attempted to use software to synchronize the audio file with an illegally obtained video file to create a completed movie file suitable for sharing over the Internet among members of the IMAGiNE Group and others.