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

February 7, 2004

U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Columbia
Roscoe C. Howard, Jr.
Judiciary Center
555 Fourth Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
Contact: Channing Phillips
Public Affairs
(202) 514-6933

Pennsylvania Man Sentenced in First D.C. Case Charging Trafficking Live Musical Performances

Washington, D.C. - United States Attorney Roscoe C. Howard, Jr. and FBI Assistant Director in Charge Michael A. Mason of the FBI’s Washington Field Office announced that Eric Miller, age 32, of Langhorne, Pennsylvania, was sentenced yesterday by the Honorable Gladys Kessler, United States District Judge, to six months of home detention, 3 years of probation, restitution in the amount of $519.72, and a fine of $1,000.00. A Consent Order of Forfeiture and Destruction was entered regarding music VHS tapes and compact disks (CDs) seized at Miller’s Pennsylvania residence at the time the FBI executed a search warrant.

The sentence arises in connection with Miller’s earlier guilty plea in June 2003 to the charge of Trafficking in Live Musical Performances in connection with his sales of copies of performances that were “bootleg” music tapes advertised on Internet web sites operated by Miller, the first such prosecution in the District of Columbia. According to information presented to the court by Assistant United States Sherri L. Schornstein, the live musical performances that were bootlegged included the works of Duran Duran, Mariah Carey, Destinys Child, Jewel, Alicia Keys, Sarah McLachlin, Whitesnake, Mya, Shakira, Britney Spears, and Tori Amos.

In imposing the sentence, Judge Kessler noted that the defendant had received a cease and desist letter and had persisted in the activity which she described as “theft of people’s hard work, efforts, and artistic abilities.”

U.S. Attorney Howard stated that, “people who steal and sell the artistic works of others need to recognize that this behavior is theft. They also need to realize that while they are out on the Internet transacting business, there is always a paper trail leading right back to them. They are not as anonymous as they may think, these crimes have a negative impact on the music, motion picture, and software industries, and these crimes will be aggressively prosecuted.”

According to information presented to the Court, from approximately May 7, 2002 through May 14 2003, Miller operated the websites phillynet@hotmail.com/buputa and sales@phillynetservice.com which offered for sale numerous VHS tapes and CDs of live theatrical performances. Between May 7, 2002, and March 7, 2003, an undercover FBI agent purchased from Miller’s websites a total of 25 VHS tapes, which Miller sold for $18.99 per unit, and 3 CDs which Miller sold for $14.99 per unit. The purchases were shipped to Washington, D.C. via Priority Mail. The VHS tapes and CDs purchased were “bootleg” copies of artists’ live musical performances. That is, copies of live musical performances made without the artists’ permission.

In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Howard and FBI Assistant Director in Charge Mason 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 Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri L. Schornstein who prosecuted the case.


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