Student Becomes First Convicted Internet Pirate

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A University of Oregon student has become the first person convicted of a felony under the No Electronic Theft (NET) Act of 1997. The law punishing Internet copyright piracy states that anyone who distributes 10 or more copyrighted works with a value of more than $2,500 can face up to three years in prison and a fine up to $250,000.

According to the Justice Department, Jeffrey Gerard Levy, 22, admitted in January 1999 that he had illegally allowed the general public to download and copy copyrighted music, movies and software programs on his Web site. Levy will be formally sentenced Nov. 2.

The Justice Department recently closed a loophole in the NET Act that said prosecutors had to prove that cyber-thieves received "commercial benefits" from their thefts in order to win convictions.

A Justice Department official said there was no evidence that Levy had made any profit from the freely available works.

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