(CN) - The North Carolina man behind the second-largest music piracy website in the United States was sentenced to three years in prison for criminal copyright infringement, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.
The case is a milestone as it is the first criminal copyright infringement sentence meted out to a "cyberlocker" operator, a name for one who runs a cloud or file storage service.
Rocky Ouprasith, 23, of Charlotte, N.C., operated the website RockDizMusic.com, which distributed millions of copyrighted works -- many before they were even commercially released.
As part of his guilty plea, Ouprasith admitted that between May 2011 and October 2013, he operated the RockDizMusic.com website from servers in France and Canada, which allowed Internet users to find and download infringing digital copies of copyrighted songs and albums.
Ouprasith went on to tell Chief U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith that he obtained digital copies of copyrighted songs and albums - including "pre-release" songs that were not yet commercially available to consumers - from online sources and encouraged and solicited others, referred to as "affiliates," to upload digital copies of copyrighted songs and albums to websites, including RockDizFile.com, that were hosted on servers in Russia, France and the Netherlands.
Ouprasith also admitted that to encourage such activity, he agreed to pay the affiliates based on the number of downloads from his website.
According to the Recording Industry Association of America, in 2013, RockDizFile.com was the second-largest online file-sharing website specializing in the reproduction and distribution of infringing copies of copyrighted music in the United States.
Ouprasith conceded that in 2013 and 2014, he either ignored or pretended to take remedial action in response to complaints from copyright holders and their representatives that the website contained links to infringing copies protected songs and albums.
RockDizMusic.com and RockDizFile.com were shut down in October 2014 while law enforcement in France and the Netherlands seized servers used by Ouprasith.
In addition to his prison sentence, Ouprasith was ordered to serve two years of supervised release, make a restitution of $45,288 and forfeit $50,851.
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