The U.S. Department of Justice's "Operation Gridlock" anti-piracy initiative, announced last August, yielded its first major results Jan. 15 with felony convictions against two individuals for illega

The U.S. Department of Justice's "Operation Gridlock" anti-piracy initiative, announced last August, yielded its first major results Jan. 15 with felony convictions against two individuals for illegal file-sharing.

The network operators, who ran Direct Connect servers, pleaded guilty to the charges in the first federal action ever taken against criminal copyright theft on peer-to-peer networks. The case also involved the U.S. Attorney General for the District of Columbia.

Attorney General John Ashcroft and other federal officials announced that William R. Trowbridge, 50, of Johnson City, N.Y., and Michael Chicoine, 47, of San Antonio, Texas, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit felony criminal copyright infringement.

Their pleas were entered in front of Judge Paul L. Friedman in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

"The RIAA welcomes and applauds today's unprecedented announcement," says Brad Buckles, executive VP of anti-piracy at the trade group. He adds that the Feds "have made it clear that those who operate peer-to-peer systems to flout the law by intentionally trading in copyright works will face the consequences."

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