Two men pleaded guilty today (April 3) to criminal copyright infringement and other charges, admitting their involvement in the largest music manufacturing piracy seizure in the United States.

Two men pleaded guilty today (April 3) to criminal copyright infringement and other charges, admitting their involvement in the largest music manufacturing piracy seizure in the United States.

Ye Teng Wen, a.k.a. Michael Wen, 29, and Hao He, a.k.a. Kevin He, 30, of Union City, Calif. admitted to mass producing nearly 200,000 pirated music and software CDs. Many of the pirated CDs contained counterfeit FBI Anti_Piracy seals and silk screened artwork to make them appear legitimate. About 85% of the counterfeit CDs were recordings of Latin music.

Wen, He and Yaobin Zhai of Fremont, Calif., were arrested last October during simultaneous raids at 13 locations in California and Texas as part of Operation Remaster and Operation Buccaneer, respectively. Law enforcement officers seized about 494,000 pirated music, software and movie CDs and DVDs, 1 million CD inserts and more than 5,500 "stampers" - the metal discs used to press multiple copies of an individual title. A single stamper can potentially be used to manufacture 50,000 to 80,000 counterfeit CDs or DVDs of a single copyrighted work.

The operations were the result of joint efforts by the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (a task force administered by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Sacramento Valley High Tech Task Force, the U.S. Secret Service, the Recording Industry Assn. of America and the Motion Picture Assn. of America.

RIAA executive VP of anti-piracy Brad Buckles said at a press conference today in San Francisco that even though Latin music only accounts for about 5% of the music market, pirates of this genre of music are not "under the radar."

U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan reported that Operation Remaster has broken up a sophisticated CD piracy scheme that was distributing hundreds of thousands of CDs around the country. Investigators found pirated CDs in retail outlets as far away as Los Angeles and Chicago. The pirated CDs were made to look legitimate by incorporating artwork, printed inserts, and counterfeit FBI Anti-Piracy labels.

As part of their plea agreements, the defendants also agreed to forfeit their interest in equipment used to commit the violations, including a replication machine; a silk screening machine; a barcode printer; and DVD replicators.

Wen and He are scheduled to be sentenced before U.S. District Court Judge Ronald M. Whyte on Oct. 16, 2006. The next court appearance for Zhai, who has not pleaded guilty, is scheduled for May 22, 2006.

Tagged