A Charlotte man who ran one of the nation’s largest illegal music file-sharing sites was sentenced on Tuesday to three years in federal prison.
Rocky Ouprasith, 23, pleaded guilty in August to one count of criminal copyright infringement, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. After his prison term, he’ll be on federal probation for two years. He also was ordered to forfeit $50,851 in proceeds and pay $48,289 in restitution.
The Texas transplant living in northwest Charlotte operated RockDizMusic.com and the related RockDizFile.com, the second-biggest illegal music file-sharing site in the nation in 2013, according to the Recording Industry Association of America trade group. Ouprasith illegally distributed millions of recordings, prosecutors said.
In a statement, RIAA thanked federal officials for pursuing the case. “This sentence should send a message that operating a flagrantly illegal business that steals from others by engaging in criminal activity online has real consequences,” stated Brad Buckles, the group’s anti-piracy executive vice president.
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The feds shut the sites down last fall, ending a nearly 3 1/2-year run.
Ouprasith admitted the pirated material’s market value was between $2.5 million and $7 million. Prosecutors cited “conservative” copyright infringement estimates totaling nearly $6.1 million, but the RIAA believes the actual total is much higher.
RockDizMusic.com offered thousands of singles, music videos, hundreds of albums and mix tapes for download.
Ouprasith found digital copies of copyrighted songs and albums online, he acknowledged in a court filing, and processed the files to his site listing RockDizMusic.com as the publisher.
Ouprasith also obtained content by encouraging users to be “affiliates” and upload music to his website. They were paid based on the number of times people downloaded the songs and albums they uploaded.
To download a file, people only needed to click a few hyperlinks that would lead them to RockDizFile.com or a related site. It was all free. And much of the music was available to download on Ouprasith’s sites before it was released to the public, according to RIAA.
Staff writer Adam Bell contributed.