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National Archives employee admits to copyright violation

A Suitland man faces up to five years in jail and a $250,000 fine for illegally copying and selling music and movies while he worked as a technician at the National Archives and Records Administration.

Timajin Nell, 54, pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt to criminal copyright infringement and faces sentencing June 8.

While Nell worked at the agency's College Park office, he used his government email to sell unauthorized copies of movies, music albums and pre-release movies only available to the public in theaters, according to U.S. attorney's office for Maryland. Nell had been selling the items since at least February 2009.

Nell advertised to customers, including other agency employees, that he had at least 1,144 movies and 971 songs for sale. He emailed his regular customers repeatedly to offer new DVDs and CDs for sale, the U.S. attorney's office said.

Nell used his personal computers to reproduce the DVDs and CDs by overriding copyright protections with special software, the U.S. attorney's office said. He also used his government computer to produce copies and used his work space to store the movies and music. More than 8,000 music files were found on his government computer.

During the investigation last May, an agent spotted several discs with "The Wire" handwritten on the front.

On Oct. 18, Nell sold an illegal copy of the movie "Zookeeper" to an undercover agent from the archives' inspector general's office for $5 in the cafeteria of the College Park location, according to the U.S. attorney's office. Nell told the agent that he had copied it directly from a Redbox rental of the movie.

Law enforcement officers seized more than 1,400 pirated DVDs, 445 pirated CDs, 270 commercial DVDs and 178 commercial CDs at Nell's home and office on Oct. 25 and 26.

The retail value of the stolen movies and music that Nell sold is between $5,000 and $10,000, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Nell could not be reached for comment Saturday.

ywenger@baltsun.com

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