Parvin Dhaliwal, 18, a student at the University of Arizona (UA), is the first person in country to be convicted of a crime under state law for downloading music and movies. Dhaliwal pleaded guilty to possession of counterfeit marks, or unauthorized copies of intellectual property, and was sentenced to a three-month deferred jail sentence, three years of probation, 200 hours of community service and a $5,400 fine. Dhaliwal must also take a copyright class at UA and stop using file-sharing applications. What makes this conviction notable is that copyright protection is normally a federal matter.
He was prosecuted under state laws by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office for prosecution, primarily because he was a minor at the time that he committed the crime. A Federal conviction would have resulted in a significant incarceration, and would have not allowed the judge such latitude in sentencing.
During the investigation the Federal Bureau of Investigation uncovered more than $50 million worth of music and movies on Dhaliwal’s computer. Many of the movies were available only in theaters, at the time. The files weren’t solely for personal use, Dhaliwal both duplicated and sold the pirated digital media.
From a digital rights perspective, I’m glad that this thief has been stopped; digital poachers, like Dhaliwal, are a parasite on the back of digital media development and distribution. However, offering a minor sentence and requiring service and education are a reasonable response to a teenager’s misdeed.
It will be interesting to see the spin that the Recording Industry Association of America puts on this case.
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