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Man Pleads Guilty to Selling Pirated Movies via eBay

18 Feb, 2004 By: Holly J. Wagner


A Minnesota man has pleaded guilty to selling illegally copied movie CDs via eBay in a prosecution the U.S. attorney's office is calling the first of its kind.

Andre Pnewski, 20, of St. Paul, pleaded guilty Feb. 9 to one count of criminal copyright infringement for selling copies of movies on CDs advertised on eBay under the user name “Movieguyz.” Titles included The Hulk, The Matrix Reloaded and The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, according to assistant U.S. attorney Sherri L. Schornstein.

At the time of his arrest, Pnewski told FBI agents he downloaded movies through a peer-to-peer software application known as eDonkey. He admitted seeing the FBI warning at the beginning of the movies and ignoring it.

According to information presented to the court, bidders who posted bids received an e-mail from Pnewski telling him or her not to bid and that the only way to get movies was to e-mail Pnewski directly at an e-mail address he provided. From approximately March 24, 2003 through Aug. 13, 2003, Pnewski operated from the e-mail addresses y2dre1@comcast.net@ and Aithasumixrd@yahoo.com, from which he offered for sale numerous movie CDs and from which an FBI undercover agent purchased 16 pirate CDs from him for prices ranging from $19 to $55 each.

Pnewski was sentenced to six months of electronically monitored home detention, four years' probation and restitution in the amount of $7,170.00, which Pnewski must pay to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). The court also signed a consent decree, which Pnewski signed as part of the plea agreement, for the forfeiture and destruction of computer equipment he had used to reproduce the motion pictures and numerous CD-Rs (recordable compact discs) on which he had recorded motion pictures, seized from his home pursuant to an FBI search warrant.

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