3 Guilty of File Sharing, RIAA Sues 750

The United States Department of Justice on Tuesday heralded a victory in federal court against three members of the "Apocalypse Crew" warez group. The individuals were sued for sharing digital pre-release copies of songs and albums through P2P networks, and have pleaded guilty.

The RIAA, meanwhile, sued another 750 people in its own crackdown on piracy.

In a statement, the DOJ said Derek Borchardt, 21, of North Carolina; Matthew Howard, 24, of Colorado; and Aaron Jones, 31, of Oregon obtained the music through insiders at record companies, magazine publishers and retail outlets. Songs were stored on servers run by the group.

From there, the copyrighted material was distributed "to peer-to-peer and other public file sharing networks accessible to anyone with Internet access and potentially appearing for sale around the world," the DOJ said.

The Justice Department previously sued another individual, George Hayes, 31, of Virginia, who pleaded guilty to one count of criminal copyright infringement.

The four men could face up to five years in prison and fines reaching $250,000. It's not clear when the sentences will be handed down.

In a separate action, the Record Industry Association of America announced it had filed another 750 lawsuits against unnamed individuals as part of its long-running legal efforts against P2P users. These "John Doe" suits include the individual's IP address, which the RIAA uses to discover his or her identity.

In a statement, RIAA president Cary Sherman hailed the lawsuits as protecting the integrity of the market so legal music services like iTunes can prosper. Sherman also coined a new phrase for those who download music illegally, likening them to retail shoplifters with the term "songlifter."

"Just as we continue to educate fans about the right ways to enjoy music online, we will continue to enforce our rights through the legal system. Songlifting is not without consequences," he said.

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