They didn't aspire to make great movies.
But they did want to be the best at stealing them.
In the dark of movie theaters, the IMAGiNE Group would use camcorders and other devices to copy new movies, and, later, members would distribute them online.
On Thursday, a 40-year-old Portsmouth man who led the movie piracy group was sentenced to five years in federal prison.
Jeramiah B. Perkins headed up what was described as one of the largest copyright crime groups on the Internet, according to a sentencing memorandum filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office.
It said IMAGiNE "sought to be the premier group to first release to the Internet copies of new motion pictures showing only in movie theaters."
People from several states were involved.
Their crimes resulted in a loss to copyright owners of somewhere between $400,000 and $1 million, according to a statement of facts.
A few weeks before authorities searched Perkins' house, according to the same document, another group member told Perkins they were the "top group" and said he was "actually surprised we aren't nailed yet." Perkins replied that he was "not going to jail over this."
But in August, Perkins pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit copyright infringement.
So far, at least four people have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from almost two years to four years.
U.S. Assistant Attorney Robert J. Krask asked for a longer sentence for Perkins because of his role.
Perkins' attorney, Jon Babineau, described his client as a good son and father with a steady work history.
He told the judge he had asked his client many times why he had done it.
Babineau said he thought it started out as something the group liked to do, "like playing video games," but grew into an addiction.
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