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Estonian man pleads guilty in Megaupload case brought to US

February 13, 2015

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (AP) — An Estonian man who worked as a computer programmer for the now-defunct file-sharing website Megaupload has pleaded guilty in what prosecutors say was a massive copyright-piracy scheme run through the site.

Andrus Nomm, 36, pleaded guilty Friday in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, to conspiracy to commit copyright infringement. He was sentenced to a year and a day in prison and has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Prosecutors say Megaupload was used to illegally download millions of songs and movies in one of the biggest copyright cases in history.

Nomm was one of seven men indicted in the case three years ago and the first to be brought to the U.S. to face charges. He was initially arrested in the Netherlands in 2012 and had been fighting extradition. On Friday, he appeared in court wearing a dark jumpsuit with the word “prisoner” on the back and spoke softly when answering questions from a judge. Asked how he wanted to plead, he said “guilty.”

Nomm acknowledged as part of a plea agreement that he and the other men indicted in the case, including Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom, knew that Megaupload.com and other sites the group operated contained copyright-infringing materials and that they were making money from reproducing and distributing it. A statement of facts to which Nomm agreed says Dotcom “did not care about protecting copyrights in the operation of the Mega sites.”

Nomm acknowledged in court that he began working for Megaupload in the Philippines in 2007, and it was his job to research and program video conversion techniques to allow the sites to efficiently stream files.

He brought up the issue of copyright infringement to colleagues, noting that many files he was sent to review for errors contained the FBI’s anti-piracy warning, according to the statement of facts. In 2009, Nomm told his supervisor that he could “implement an automatic system for finding copyright-infringing files on Megavideo.com and flag them for review by an auditor,” but his supervisor rejected the idea. Nomm also acknowledged that “many of the auditors did not even know what copyright was,” according to the statement of facts.

Megaupload was shut down by the federal government in 2012.

The plea agreement also helps paint a picture of Dotcom, who was born Kim Schmitz and now lives in New Zealand. Dotcom required Nomm to work 10 to 12 hours seven days a week and at one point reneged on a promise to give Nomm company shares, the agreement says.

“Nomm believed Dotcom frequently spent company money on personal expenses,” the agreement says.

Nomm’s attorney, Alan Yamamoto, declined to comment after the hearing.


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