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Feds Win Jury Verdict For Illegal Music Downloads

The US Department of Justice said that they have successfully won a jury verdict against someone accused of illegally downloading music.

The defendant in the case, 21-year-old Mark Shumaker, faces a maximum prison sentence of five years and a maximum fine of $250,000.

The Recording Industry Assoc. of America (RIAA), which said it helped develop evidence against APC, applauded the jury verdict.

“For the first time ever, a criminal online music piracy case went to trial, and the jury rendered a swift and unanimous verdict,” said Brad Buckles, executive vice president for the RIAA. “The crimes committed here — as well as the harm to the music community — are severe, and so are the consequences. We congratulate and thank the U.S. Attorney’s office for its work on this case.”

APC was among the pioneers in music piracy according to the blog TorrentFreak. The group is considered by many to be the first to coordinate pre-release uploading of MP3 files. Shumaker is accused of participating in the group for nearly a year. The government has convicted 15 APC members so far.

Raymond Griffiths, an Australian computer user alleged to be a leader of Drink or Die, is the subject of extradition requests from the U.S. government. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted on all the charges against him.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which is in the process of issuing subpoenas for the identities of individual file swappers as a prelude to filing civil copyright infringement suits, welcomed news of the guilty plea.

What makes APC members different than average Lime Wire users is the group was sophisticated and specialized in releasing copyright music on the Web.

“The theft of music on the Internet is a serious crime, and this action shows that the Justice Department means business,” RIAA President Cary Sherman said in a statement. “Those who egregiously distribute music on the Internet should take note–federal prosecution and jail time are real possibilities.”