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Damian Williams, the United States Attorney, representing the Southern District of New York recently made an announcement regarding the guilty plea of George Bridi before the U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman. Bridi is a United Kingdom citizen. He had a role in the Sparks Group which is an international piracy group. This group is famous for illegally distributing movies and television shows on the Internet.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As he admitted in court today, George Bridi participated in an international video piracy ring that illegally distributed worldwide on the Internet nearly every movie released by major production studios, as well as television shows. Bridi circumvented copyright protections on DVDs and Blu-ray discs to illegally share movies online, but he and his crew could not evade law enforcement scrutiny, and Bridi now awaits sentencing for his crime.”
The Indictment and statements made in open court point out the allegations: “Between the year 2011 and the present, George Bridi and others known and unknown were members of the Sparks Group, a criminal organization that disseminated on the Internet movies and television shows prior to their retail release date, including nearly every movie released by major production studios, after compromising the content’s copyright protections.”
In furtherance of its scheme, the Sparks Group fraudulently obtained several copyrighted DVDs and Blu-Ray discs from wholesale distributors before their respective retail release date by the means of misrepresentations regarding the reasons for what they were requesting the discs prior to the retail release date.
Sparks Group members then used the method of ‘Cracking’ in which specialized software fitted computers are used for the following things:
- To compromise the copyright protections on the discs,
- To reproduce and encode the content of those discs in a format that is easy to copy and disseminate over the Internet.
Then such copies of the copyrighted content were uploaded onto servers being under the control of the Sparks Group. After this step, other members helped the group in reproducing and disseminating the content on several platforms. The Sparks Group didn’t stop here, it also uploaded photographs of the discs in their original packaging to show everyone that their reproduced content was originated from authentic DVDs and Blu-Ray discs.
Bridi had a role in this whole criminal infringement of arranging discs to be picked up, mailed, or delivered from distributors that were located in 3 main places of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and New Jersey to other members of the Sparks Group prior to their official release date. Bridi then also reproduced, aided, and abetted this reproduction of discs by using specialized computer software circumventing copyright protections on the original discs and also in reproducing the copyrighted content for further distribution on the whole of the Internet. The Sparks Group has caused a loss of approximately tens of millions of dollars to several film production studios.
Since Birdi had an active role in this criminal conspiracy of committing copyright infringement, he can be sentenced to up to 5 years of imprisonment. Although the sentence is yet to declare by the judge for which the matter has been fixed for January 20, 2022.