SACRAMENTO . United States Attorney John K. Vincent announced today that MOHSIN MYNAF, 36, of Vacaville, California, pled guilty to six counts of criminal copyright infringement; six counts of trafficking in counterfeit labels; and one count of circumventing a technological measure that protects a copyright work (the .Digital Millennium Copyright Act”). He also agreed to the criminal forfeiture and destruction of a substantial amount of property used to commit the copyright violations. According to court documents, more than 4,500 bootlegged video tapes were found on December 5th, and 6th, 2001 during the service of five federal search warrants at three video stores (located at Video Stop, 1100 Marshall Road, Suite A, B, C, D, Vacaville, California; Videoland, 2147 North Texas Street, Fairfield, California; and Videoland, 128 Robles Way, Vallejo, California), a Vacaville storage facility rented by defendant MYNAF, and the defendant’s Vacaville residence. Approximately 28 bootlegged video tapes were also found at the three video stores between August 31, 2001 and November 25, 2001. Additionally, approximately 3,446 counterfeit copyright notice labels on the video tapes were found between August 31, 2001 and December 6, 2001. According to the plea agreement, at the MYNAF residence, agents found a movie videocassette reproduction lab with equipment hooked up to manufacture counterfeit movie videocassettes and labels. The equipment included approximately eighteen video cassette recorders, equipment used to bypass videocassette copyright protections, printers and other equipment. Defendant MYNAF utilized some of the equipment, including the SIMA Video Copy Master, to circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to copyrighted works. Macrovision’s copy guard, the technological measure circumvented by the defendant, is an electronic signal embedded in the recording of the copyrighted work. This signal prevents access to the video signal necessary to create viewable copies. Macrovision’s copy guard causes an unauthorized copy to fluctuate in color, brightness and stability, rendering the copy unviewable. The replication equipment found in defendant MYNAF’s residence was configured with a copy guard defeater wired into the video circuit. The copy guard defeater automatically stripped any copy guard protection from the unauthorized copies, thus allowing defendant MYNAF to make further recordings from these copies. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) reviewed samples of the videocassettes seized in this case and determined them to be unauthorized copies of copyright protected video works, concluding that the Macrovision copy guard on the authorized videocassettes was defeated on the unauthorized tapes. The FBI also learned that defendant MYNAF had told others that he had special equipment used to circumvent movie copyright protections. Defendant MYNAF acted for purposes of commercial advantage and private financial gain by selling, renting and distributing the unauthorized reproduced movies made with this equipment.
This case represents the first criminal conviction in California under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), which was enacted in October 1998. The provision under which defendant MYNAF was convicted prohibits anyone from willfully, and for purposes of commercial advantage and private financial gain, circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls or safeguards access to a work protected under the copyright laws. This is the first known DMCA prosecution targeting the circumvention of security measures placed on analog videocassettes. This case is only the second known criminal conviction in the country under the DMCA. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nebraska obtained a recent conviction concerning a modified chip that circumvented Sony software security measure to allow the Sony Playstation to play unauthorized copies of copyright protected Sony computer games. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark L. Krotoski, who is prosecuting the case, MYNAF faces a maximum penalty of five years and a fine of up to $250,000 on each of the criminal copyright infringement and trafficking in counterfeit labels counts; a maximum penalty of five years and a fine of up to $500,000 on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act count; and criminal forfeiture and destruction of the property used to commit the copyright violations.
“We are extremely grateful to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento and the FBI for their outstanding work in the investigation and prosecution of this case. The defendant’s guilty plea to both the copyright and the DMCA charges demonstrates that the U.S. Government intends to prosecute piracy cases to the fullest extent of the law. In this case, the DMCA was appropriately and deliberately applied to the activities of this defendant and we are pleased that these new legal safeguards have provided additional protection for copyright holders,” said Ken Jacobsen, Sr. Vice President and Director, Worldwide Anti-Piracy, Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). The sentencing hearing for MYNAF, who was arrested on December 5, 2001 and remains in federal custody, is set for July 11, 2002 before U.S. District Court Judge David F. Levi. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation Fairfield Office with the assistance of the Vacaville Police Department and the Motion Picture Association of America.
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