Rocky Ouprasith, the owner of music-sharing websites RockDizMusic and RockDizFile, has pleaded guilty to copyright infringement. Ouprasith, of Charlotte, N.C., entered the plea Friday in federal court in Norfolk and now faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He will be sentenced on Nov. 17.
Federal prosecutors say Ouprasith, 23, operated the popular sites from May 2011 to October 2014, when federal officials shut it down. He later tried to resurrect it. File-hosting servers in the Netherlands and France were seized as part of the operation. Files were also hosted in Russia.
Ouprasith admitted obtaining copies of copyrighted songs and albums from online sources and encouraged others -- whom he called “affiliates” -- to upload music to the website. According to the Justice department, Ouprasith agreed to pay the “affiliates” based on the number of file downloads.
At the height of its popularity, in 2013, RockDizFile.com was the second-largest outlet of pirated music in the United States, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.
In his plea agreement, Ouprasith admitted the market value of the illegally obtained material to be more than $2.5 million.
Earlier this year Ouprasith said he planned on bringing the site of illegally obtained music back online. “Great news everyone, Rockdizmusic will be back!” he said in a Facebook post dated May 17, setting a launch date of June 3. “Can't wait to start bringing you all the latest and greatest in underground R&B and Hiphop [sic] music.”
A link included in that FB message leads to a site with the following message: “Today We Are Shutting Down RockDizMusic: I love you all and hope y'all will accomplish any obstacles y'all may face and move forward on during your endeavors. Cheesey chicken nuggets eat buffalo sauce obama bahama mama.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.