Forty Defendants Convicted in Operation Copycat to Date
WASHINGTON – David M. Fish, 26, of Woodbury, Conn., was sentenced yesterday in
U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., to 30 months in prison on charges of criminal copyright
infringement and circumvention, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal
Division and U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California Joseph P. Russoniello
Fish was also sentenced by U.S. District Judge Ronald M. Whyte to a three year term of
supervised release following his release from prison, a mandatory special assessment of $500,
and the forfeiture of computer and other equipment used in committing the copyright offenses.
The case is part of Operation Copycat, an investigation by the FBI and the U.S.
Attorney’s Office targeting online warez groups, which illegally distribute newly-released
movies, games, software and music online. Operation Copycat has resulted in 40 convictions
thus far and is part of a larger federal crackdown against the illegal online distribution of
copyrighted materials known as Operation Site Down.
On Feb. 27, 2006, Fish pleaded guilty to five counts in federal court in San Jose,
including four counts in the Northern District of California case for conspiracy to commit
criminal copyright infringement; distribution of technology primarily designed to circumvent
encryption technology protecting a right of a copyright owner and aiding and abetting;
circumventing a technological measure that protects a copyright work and aiding and abetting;
copyright infringement by electronic means and aiding and abetting. On the same day, Fish also
pleaded guilty to one count of criminal infringement of a copyright in the Southern District of
Iowa. The two cases involved separate investigations and conduct in both jurisdictions. The
charges were consolidated and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District
to copyrighted materials. Without circumvention, many of the copyrighted works could not be
reproduced and made available to others. Once the DVDs were circumvented, they were
uploaded onto the warez site and downloaded and accessed by hundreds of other warez
Scripters for warez sites create, program and help build the sites. Suppliers provide an
unauthorized copyrighted movie, game or software while equipment suppliers provide hardware
(such as hard drives, computer parts, and computer servers) to the warez site. Brokers find
groups to participate on the warez site and encoders circumvent the technological measures and
protections of copyrighted works on the DVDs designed to prevent unauthorized access and
In the Southern District of Iowa case, Fish participated in a separate warez site from Jan.
21, 2003, through April 21, 2004. The warez server used in this case was determined to contain
approximately 13,000 pirated software titles including movies, games, utility software and
music. Transfer logs confirm that defendant Fish assisted in the uploading of 131 software titles
and downloading 373 software titles to and from the warez FTP server between Aug. 16, 2003,
and March 29, 2004. The Iowa case resulted from an earlier national initiative against online
piracy known as Operation FastLink.
Operation Site Down and Operation FastLink are the largest and most successful global
criminal enforcement actions ever taken against the organized piracy groups which are
responsible for most of the initial illegal distribution of copyrighted movies, software, games and
music on the Internet. Consisting of multiple FBI undercover investigations, these two operations
have so far resulted in a total of 108 felony convictions; more than 200 search warrants executed
in 15 countries; the confiscation of hundreds of computers and illegal online distribution hubs;
and the removal of more than 100 million dollars worth of illegally-copied copyrighted software,
games, movies and music from illicit distribution channels. Countries participating in these U.S.-
led operations include: France, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United
Kingdom, Portugal, Hungary, Israel, Spain, Australia, Singapore, Belgium and Germany.