Feds bust world's most prolific music piracy ring

Rabid Neurosis institutionalized


Six men have been accused of running the world's most prolific music piracy ring, an online crew federal prosecutors allege delivered more than 25,000 copyrighted albums, often before they were officially released.

As members of Rabid Neurosis, or RNS as the group was called, they tapped insiders at music retailers, radio stations, and CD manufacturing plants, who were able to get their hands on music titles before their commercial release in the US. In other cases, they turned to affiliates elsewhere in the world, who were able to supply music that was not yet available in America.

"These reproductions were done for the benefit of the members of RNS and other affiliated piracy groups, in that, by getting a reputation for providing pirated materials that were previously unavailable on the piracy scene, RNS members were granted access to massive libraries of pirated music, video games, software and movies," prosecutors alleged in court documents filed Wednesday.

The claim of personal benefit is important, since sentencing guidelines frequently require a showing that copyright infringers financially gained from their activities.

Wednesday's indictment, filed in US District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia, named Adil R. Cassim, 29, of Granada Hills, California, the alleged leader of the group, Matthew D. Chow, 28, of Missouri City, Texas, Bennie L. Glover, 35, of Shelby, North Carolina, an employee of a CD production plant, and Edward Mohan II, 46, of Baltimore.

Each was charged with a single count of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement. If convicted each faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, in addition to a possible order to pay restitution.

Patrick L. Saunders, 30, of Brooklyn, New York, was charged in August and pleaded guilty on Tuesday to one count of copyright infringement. James A. Dockery, 39, of Mooresboro, North Carolina was charged on Tuesday.

Chow, intends to plead not guilty during a court appearance scheduled for next week, his Houston-based attorney, Terry W. Yates, said. Attorneys for the remaining defendants couldn't be reached for comment.

According to Saunders's plea agreement, RNS willfully infringed more than 25,000 copyrighted titles during its decade in operation. Its first release was in 1996, with a copy of Metallica's Ride the Lightning, and its final official act was the posting of Fall Out Boy's Infinity on High in January 2007. In March 2006, an RNS member distributed Cassandra Wilson's Thunderbird album about a month before its commercial release.

"During its existence, RNS was generally viewed as the most successful internet music piracy release group in the world," the agreement, which was signed by Saunders, stated. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Stolen university credentials up for sale by Russian crooks, FBI warns
    Forget dark-web souks, thousands of these are already being traded on public bazaars

    Russian crooks are selling network credentials and virtual private network access for a "multitude" of US universities and colleges on criminal marketplaces, according to the FBI.

    According to a warning issued on Thursday, these stolen credentials sell for thousands of dollars on both dark web and public internet forums, and could lead to subsequent cyberattacks against individual employees or the schools themselves.

    "The exposure of usernames and passwords can lead to brute force credential stuffing computer network attacks, whereby attackers attempt logins across various internet sites or exploit them for subsequent cyber attacks as criminal actors take advantage of users recycling the same credentials across multiple accounts, internet sites, and services," the Feds' alert [PDF] said.

    Continue reading
  • Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation
    Study claims Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft work to derail data rules

    Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft often support privacy in public statements, but behind the scenes they've been working through some common organizations to weaken or kill privacy legislation in US states.

    That's according to a report this week from news non-profit The Markup, which said the corporations hire lobbyists from the same few groups and law firms to defang or drown state privacy bills.

    The report examined 31 states when state legislatures were considering privacy legislation and identified 445 lobbyists and lobbying firms working on behalf of Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with industry groups like TechNet and the State Privacy and Security Coalition.

    Continue reading
  • SEC probes Musk for not properly disclosing Twitter stake
    Meanwhile, social network's board rejects resignation of one its directors

    America's financial watchdog is investigating whether Elon Musk adequately disclosed his purchase of Twitter shares last month, just as his bid to take over the social media company hangs in the balance. 

    A letter [PDF] from the SEC addressed to the tech billionaire said he "[did] not appear" to have filed the proper form detailing his 9.2 percent stake in Twitter "required 10 days from the date of acquisition," and asked him to provide more information. Musk's shares made him one of Twitter's largest shareholders. The letter is dated April 4, and was shared this week by the regulator.

    Musk quickly moved to try and buy the whole company outright in a deal initially worth over $44 billion. Musk sold a chunk of his shares in Tesla worth $8.4 billion and bagged another $7.14 billion from investors to help finance the $21 billion he promised to put forward for the deal. The remaining $25.5 billion bill was secured via debt financing by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Barclays, and others. But the takeover is not going smoothly.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022