John Horn, U.S. attorney, Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta (Courtesy photo)
The owner of the website Sharebeast.com has pleaded guilty to felony criminal copyright infringement involving unauthorized distribution and reproduction of over one billion copies of copyrighted works, U.S. Attorney John Horn announced Friday.
Artur Sargsyan has pleaded guilty to one felony count of criminal copyright infringement related to his ownership and administration of the file-sharing website, which was shut down by the FBI two years ago.
“Through Sharebeast and other related sites, this defendant profited by illegally distributing copyrighted music and albums on a massive scale,” Horn said in a news release. “The collective work of the FBI and our international law enforcement partners have shut down the Sharebeast websites and prevented further economic losses by scores of musicians and artists.”
Defense attorney George Mgdesyan of Sherman Oaks, California, could not be reached immediately.
“This is another example of how the FBI and its international law enforcement partners, working together, make it difficult for criminals to profit from illegal activities on the internet,” David LeValley, special agent in charge, FBI Atlanta, said in the news release. “Illegally making money off of the talent of hard working artists will not go unpunished thanks to the dedication and hard work of our FBI agents.”
Sargsyan owned and operated a number of websites, including Sharebeast.com, Newjams.net and Albumjams.com. Horn said that, from 2012 through 2015, Sargsyan illegally distributed and reproduced copyrighted works through Sharebeast.com. Using a network of websites that he owned and operated, including Newjams.net and Albumjams.com, Sargsyan created links to a wide swath of copyright-protected music that was stored on Sharebeast.com. Horn said Sharebeast illegally stored and distributed works from scores of artists, including Bruno Mars, Linkin Park, Pitbull, Pharrell Williams, Gwen Stefani, Maroon 5, Ariana Grande, Destiny’s Child, Ciara, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson, Kanye West and Justin Bieber.
In numerous instances, Sharebeast distributed and reproduced prerelease copyrighted works, making songs available before they were sold to paying consumers, Horn said. The U.S. attorney also said Sargsyan had received over 100 emails notifying him that Sharebeast was hosting copyright-infringing works yet kept making the copyright-infringing files available for download.
In August 2015, the United States seized control of the domain names Sharebeast.com, Newjams.net and Albumjams.com. With the assistance of international law enforcement partners in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, the FBI seized the computer servers used by Sargsyan to illegally distribute the copyrighted music worldwide, Horn said.
Sentencing for Sargsyan, 29, of Glendale, California, has been scheduled for Dec. 4 at 10:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Samir Kaushal and Kamal Ghali are prosecuting the case.