U.S. Department of Justice - CyberCrime.gov Archived

Copyright Cases - U.S. v. Davis (D.D.C.)

April 30, 2003

U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Columbia
Rosco C. Howard, Jr.
Contact: Channing Phillips
Public Affairs Office
(202) 514-6933

  New York Man Pleads Guilty in First D.C. Case Charging Music Piracy

Washington, D.C. - United States Attorney Roscoe C. Howard, Jr. and Van Harp, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office announced that Alvin A. Davis, age 42, of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty today before the Honorable Reggie B. Walton, United States District Judge to a one-count Indictment charging Criminal Copyright Infringement in connection with his sales of “pirated” music compact disks (CDs) advertised on an Internet web site operated by Davis, the first such prosecution in the District of Columbia. Davis faces a statutory penalty of up to five years imprisonment, a fine of $250,000.00, a 3-year term of supervised release, and order of restitution. Under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, Davis faces a term of imprisonment of 2 to 8 months in jail. Sentencing is scheduled for July 24, 2003. In announcing today’s guilty plea, U.S. Attorney Howard stated that, “Mr. Davis believed that the Internet provided a quick and risk-free way to profit off the work of others. Today’s guilty plea sends a strong message to anyone involved in piracy that we will aggressively pursue and prosecute persons who steal the intellectual property of others.” According to information presented to the Court, from approximately July 20, 2000, through October 3, 2003, Davis operated the website www.empirerecords.com, which offered for sale over 100 music compilations of Rap and Rhythm and Blues (R&B) artists on Compact Disks (CDs) and cassette tapes. Davis was the owner and operator of the web site. On April 11, July 2, and July 24, 2002, an FBI Special Agent, acting in an undercover capacity, purchased 21, 28, and 160 CDs, respectively, from Davis, through Empire Records. These CDs were shipped from New York to the District of Columbia, via Priority Mail and Federal Express. The CDs purchased were “pirate” compilations, that is, works by various artists and songs by individual artists that have never appeared on a legitimately released album. Many of the sound recordings contained on these CDs are the copyrighted property of certain record companies that have the exclusive rights to manufacture, distribute, and prepare derivative works of those sound recordings. Neither Alvin Davis, Alvin Davis doing business as Empire Records, nor any of the DJs referenced on the covers of the CDs, was licensed to reproduce or distribute phonorecords embodying the sound recording purchased by the FBI Agent. The total of these 209 CDs sold for the retail price of $15.50 per unit, equating to $3,329.50. The copyrights infringed were the property of various companies, including: UMG Recordings, Inc.; Sony Music Entertainment, Inc.; J Records, LLC; Zomba Recording Corporation & Island Jam Music Group; V.P. Records; Arista Records, Inc.; and Warner Bros. Records, Inc. U.S. Attorney Howard and FBI Assistant Director in Charge Harp commended the work of FBI Special Agent Melissa S. Morrow and the staff of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Nicholas Novak, Auditor, and Felicia Price, Legal Assistant, as well as Stephen Brannon, Paralegal, U.S. Department of Justice. Howard and Harp also praised the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri L. Schornstein and Jason Gull, Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Computer Crimes and Intellectual Property Section, who are prosecuting the case.  


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