Sean Lovelady, 28, of California, was handed 23 months and had agreed to cooperate with the authorities. (.pdf) Willie Lambert, 57, of Pennsylvania, was given 30 months and ordered to pay $450,000 in restitution, the authorities said.
Two other men connected to the group have also pleaded guilty and are to be sentenced soon.
According to the indictment, (.pdf) “The conspirators informally identified themselves as the IMAGiNE Group and sought, among other things, to be the premier group to first release to the internet copies of new motion pictures only showing in movie theaters.”
Group members would audio-record films such as Friends With Benefits and Captain America: The First Avenger. Others members would record the film at a theater with a camcorder. Then the sound and video would be combined into a full-featured movie, the authorities said.
Other films the group recorded and uploaded included The Men Who Stare at Goats, Avatar, Clash of the Titans, Iron Man 2, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, and, among others, The Green Hornet.
The authorities said the group utilized servers in France, Canada and the United States to offer in-theater-only movies from websites like unleashthe.net, pure-imagination.us and pure-imagination.info.
The indictment said the group accepted donations “to fund expenses, including the cost of renting servers used by the conspirators, and to accept payments for the unauthorized distribution and sale of pirated copies of copyrighted works.”
The indictment alleges that the IMAGiNE Group’s websites included member profiles, a torrent tracker, discussion forums and a message board.