Feds get yet another pirate

Operation yields fourth P2P conviction

WASHINGTON — The Dept. of Justice has secured its final guilty plea resulting from the first federal investigation that specifically targeted illegal peer-to-peer file-sharing.

The plea of Bryan F. Tanner, also known as “Axeman,” brought to four the number of convictions netted by Operation Digital Gridlock, a joint investigation by the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the DOJ’s computer crime and intellectual property unit.

The four constitute the first — and so far only — federal felony convictions for copyright piracy on P2P networks.

Initiated in August, Digital Gridlock targeted illegal file-sharing of copyrighted materials over Direct Connect P2P networks that belonged to an online group of hubs known as the Underground Network.

According to a DOJ statement, “From on or about August 2003 through August 2004, Tanner owned, maintained, operated and moderated a Direct Connect hub named ‘Silent Echoes.’ ”

Defendant’s hub offered movies, computer software, computer games and music in digital format. During the investigation, government agents downloaded numerous copyrighted works worth approximately $7,371 from Tanner’s hub.

Agents estimated that on any one day, Tanner’s hub shared an average of 6.72 terabytes of files, roughly equivalent in storage space to well over 6,000 movies in digital format.

Tanner’s conviction follows the Jan. 18 convictions of Michael Chicoine and William Trowbridge, followed by Nicholas Boel on April 12, all on the same charges.

Sentencing of the other three will begin June 28, according to a DOJ spokeswoman. Tanner will be sentenced in September.

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