Federal law enforcement shut down the sites in October 2014, and Ouprasith pleaded guilty to one count of criminal copyright infringement in August. In addition to a 36-month prison term, he will also get two years of supervised release, forfeit over $50,000 and pay nearly $50,000 in restitution, according to a Department of Justice press release.
That's less than the maximum possible sentence: Up to five years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 in addition to forfeiting profits from the sites.
"I'm happy with the outcome — of course, I don't want any of my clients to go jail and I hate that he's a young kid facing this, but it could've been worse," Ouprasith's attorney, Bobby Howlett Jr. of Norfolk, told the Post.
As part of his guilty plea, Ouprasith admitted that he obtained digital copies of copyrighted songs and albums online and encouraged others to do the same, then used the music files to populate overseas servers. Visitors could download music via hyperlinks on his sites, according to court documents, and Ouprasith made money through online advertising agreements and by selling premium subscriptions offering faster downloads. He also admitted to ignoring complaints or merely pretending to remove content when copyright holders complained in some cases.
"I'm happy with the outcome — of course, I don't want many of my clients to go jail and I hate that he's a young kid with no criminal history facing this, but it could've been worse," Ouprasith's attorney, Bobby Howlett Jr. of Norfolk, told the Post, adding that
Ouprasith didn't appear to do much to hide his association with the sites. According to a statement of facts connected to his plea agreement, he listed himself as the owner of RockDizMusic.com on his LinkedIn page and conducted business through a company called RPO Productions that was incorporated in North Carolina.
RIAA executive vice president for anti-piracy Brad Buckles praised the decision. "This sentence should send a message that operating a flagrantly illegal business that steals from others by engaging in criminal activity online has real consequences," he said in an e-mailed statement.
Ouprasith's case appears to be the nation's first criminal copyright sentence handed out to the operator of a "cyberlocker" site, which uses cloud storage to host pirated material. However, the United States has been pursuing other cases. Perhaps most notably, the U.S. government is seeking to extradite Kim Dotcom, the onetime operator of file storage site Megaupload who faces copyright-related charges, from New Zealand.
This story has been updated with comments from the RIAA and Ouprasith's lawyer.