Couple Given 4 Year Suspended Sentence for Illegal Uploads

A married couple have been handed four-year suspended prison terms for illegally uploading movies and cartoons to a file-sharing website in what has become the first sentence for violating Internet copyright to be handed down in Russia.

Moscow's Timiryazevsky District Court found Andrei Lopukhov and Nadezhda Lopukhova guilty of violating copyright laws by uploading more than 30 movies and animated movies to and between April 2007 and September 2008, in collusion with a person residing in Germany identified as Sergei, RBK reported Wednesday.

The charges, which were brought by the Prosecutor General's Office October 2011, are not formally related to the law against Internet piracy enforced in August, which allows rights holders to ask a court to shut down websites that post their content without permission.

The Russian Anti-Piracy Organization initiated the case and provided legal representation for the copyright holders, including Central Partnership, Smeshariki, and Luxor, among others.

The content holders said that the Lopukhovs' actions caused damages totaling 38 billion rubles ($1.18 billion), which prompted Andrei Lopukhov to make an appeal to Internet users on YouTube in February 2012.

"They demand 38 billion rubles from me for something that we all do every day," Lopukov said, asking Internet users to sign a petition to then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to legalize torrents, which has been signed by more than 36,700 users.

"Each of you can find yourselves in my place. Help me stop this lawlessness," he said in the appeal.

Their supporters created a website to collect voluntary donations to pay for the couple's lawyers after they were charged.

It remains unclear whether the court ordered the couple to pay a financial penalty, in addition to the suspended sentence.

See also:

What Russia's New Draconian Data Laws Mean for Users

Russia's Internet Watchdog Blocks Sites Calling for Election Boycott

Russia's Top Cop Wants Internet Censorship to Fight U.S. 'Info War'