Three brothers from Northern California were arraigned in an Alameda County court for allegedly operating the website mediamp4.com, which allowed users to stream more than 1,000 copyrighted TV and movie titles on computers and mobile devices.
Among the titles were the sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" and films like "Black Swan" and "Tangled."
California's attorney general, Kamala Harris, announced the charges on Friday. Hop Hoang, 26, Tony Hoang, 23, and Huynh Hoang, 20, were arraigned on one count each of conspiracy, four counts of receiving stolen property and one count of grand theft. They could face up to five years in prison. Hop Hoang pled not guilty, and the other two brothers are scheduled to be back in court on June 18 to assign public counsel.
"This case sends a clear message that the California Department of Justice will investigate digital piracy and prosecute violators to the fullest extent of the law," Harris said in a statement. Her office said that through the 18 months of the site's operation, the brothers earned $150,000 in ad revenue, and that one of the brothers said that traffic was generated through Google search ads.
Harris' office said that the MPAA sent a cease and desist letter to Tony Hoang for operating iphoneTVshows,net and moviephone.net, but they continued to operate under a new domain name.
The investigation was conducted by the eCrime unit of the attorney general's office, the California Highway Patrol and a task force that specializes in identity theft and cyber crimes, REACT.