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Sock-wielding movie pirates go to prison

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Two members of a movie piracy gang were sent to prison yesterday in Virginia.

Willie Lambert, 57, of Pittston PA, was sent down for 30 months and ordered to pay $450,000 in restitution, along with other co-defendants. Sean Lovelady, 28, of Pomona, CA, was sentenced to 23 months and must pay $7,500 in restitution. Two more members of the gang, Jeramiah Perkins and Gregory Cherwonik, are to be sentenced later.

The defendants teamed up under the name 'IMAGiNE' to distribute via the internet copies of films only showing in cinemas. Their aim was to be the premier piracy group to do this.

The group used FM and infra-red receivers to capture and record the audio portion of films. They captured the video portion by recording the film on camcorders smuggled into the movie theatre.

Back at base, they merged the sound file and "cammed" copy into a single film for distribution.

Between 2009 and 2011 IMAGiNE illegally recorded at least 20 films, according to the indictment, including Avatar and Iron Man 2. They distributed the films via their own websites, with names such as unleashthe.net, hosted on servers in France, Canada and the US.

Such websites included, among other things, member profiles, a torrent tracker…, discussion forums, a message board or shoutbox", and news, rules and other information about making donations [via PayPal]to and using the IMAGiNE Group's website.

On unleashthe.net, an unnamed conspirator to members how to "cam' movies: cover the the camcorder with black tape and put it "inside a black sock with a hole at the end to let the lens out…"

How did they think they would get away with this? ®

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