The Motion Picture Assn. of America announced a raft of anti-piracy operations including the conviction of a Los Angeles man accused of operating a major Internet piracy site.


LOS ANGELES (The Hollywood Reporter) -- The Motion Picture Assn. of America announced a raft of anti-piracy operations including the conviction of a Los Angeles man accused of operating a major Internet piracy site.

Jed Kobles, 34, pleaded guilty Aug. 26 to one felony count of conspiracy to commit grand theft in what prosecutors said was the first such use of a felony charge in an online piracy case. It also is believed to be only the second case nationwide to use state felony charges for such a case.

Kobles, who is set to be sentenced Oct. 20, operated a major peer-to-peer hub called Smoking House, which was part of a larger network called Untouchable Network, the MPAA said.

Kobles offered copyrighted movies, music and games on the hub and was reportedly in the middle of downloading the Xbox game "Leisure Suit Larry" when the Southern California High Tech Task Force executed a search warrant on his residence Feb. 25, officials said.

Undercover investigators managed to join the hub, where they were able to download such films as "Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines," "National Treasure" and "A Beautiful Mind."

"There is no room in [California] for movie thieves and people who operate hubs that facilitate illegal trading of copyrighted materials," MPAA director of worldwide anti-piracy John Malcolm said. "Jed Kobles is just the first of many who will learn this lesson the hard way. We applaud the work of [Los Angeles County] District Attorney Steve Cooley and his team."

Kobles, who has relocated to Las Vegas, faces a sentence ranging from probation to three years in state prison.

The MPAA on Aug. 26 also announced three other developments in its ongoing battle against piracy.

In Chicago, Efrem Garcia was charged with one felony count of unlawful use of audiovisual recordings for allegedly running a pirate DVD lab in his basement.

Garcia, who had been under surveillance since July, had been known to sell pirate DVDs at nearby flea markets, the MPAA said.

His basement system allegedly could produce 140 counterfeit DVDs per hour. About 3,000 such copies were confiscated including such films as "Hustle & Flow," "Stealth," "War of the Worlds," "Batman Begins" and "The Dukes of Hazzard."

Two other operations occurred overseas.

An alleged unlicensed DVD plant was raided in Manila, leading to the seizure of replicating machines and a new DVD bonding machine that could have produced an estimated 5 million DVDs or CDs. It was estimated that the plant produced more than 10 million pirated discs in the past year and had been in operation for at least four years.

MPAA also announced the closure of a highly trafficked eDonkey site in Germany. "The Realworld" was shut down as part of a legal offensive against sites that facilitate the copying of television shows.

The site, which reportedly had links to more than 900 TV shows, was shut down after a German court granted an injunction against its operator and the host company.