- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A man who sold thousands of pirated DVDs over the Internet was arraigned yesterday in federal court in Mississippi, facing trafficking and money-laundering charges that could bring up to 125 years in jail.

Randolph Hobson Guthrie III, 38, is a U.S. citizen who ran a Web site from Shanghai, called ThreeDollarDVD.com. He sold pirated copies of movies through the Russian-hosted site, according to the 18-count indictment. He also is accused of selling thousands of DVDs that he bought from Chinese manufacturers for 50 cents each through the auction site EBay.

Prosecutors said his arrest, with five associates, on July 1, 2004, was the fruit of the first joint Sino-America undercover law-enforcement operation targeting intellectual property crime. He recently finished a jail sentence in China for the piracy.

Officers of the Economic Crime Investigation Department of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security seized 210,000 counterfeit DVDs, about $67,000 in U.S. cash and nearly $30,000 in Chinese currency.

Chinese authorities also found and destroyed three warehouses that were being used to store pirated DVDs for distribution worldwide.

Immediately after his arrest, Mr. Guthrie appeared on a Chinese TV show that one law-enforcement official described as the “Chinese version of ‘Cops,’” the Fox network program that features taped-as-it-happened operations by police officers.

“This unprecedented joint law-enforcement operation sends a clear message to criminals here and abroad that intellectual property crime will not be tolerated anywhere in world,” said Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

“We will not be stopped by international borders in our vigorous pursuit of the technological pirates who steal products and profit from hard-working Americans.”

Mr. Guthrie was convicted in April by the Number Two Intermediate People’s Court in Shanghai for selling more than 133,000 counterfeit DVDs to customers in more than 20 countries. He was released from jail and earlier this month was deported to the United States, where he was immediately arrested.

Piracy runs rampant in China. According to the Motion Picture Association of America, China is a global center for DVD piracy, and 95 percent of the video discs sold there are illegally produced.

A recent analysis by the association of the costs of intellectual property theft in the Asia-Pacific region estimated the loss to be half a billion dollars in the past three years.

The U.S. indictment says Mr. Guthrie made more than $1 million from his illegal actions before undercover agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement bought eight batches of pirated disks from him between March and May 2004.

The disks included hundreds of copies of hit movies and TV shows like “Lord of the Rings,” “The Matrix” and “Star Trek.”

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