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Head of BitTorrent piracy group jailed for 40 months, longest file-sharing sentence ever

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Gallery Photo: JVC GZ-EX250 video camera
Gallery Photo: JVC GZ-EX250 video camera

After pleading guilty to charges earlier this year, Gregory Cherwonik, a member of the BitTorrent release group iMAGiNE was yesterday ordered to pay $15,000 to the MPAA and sentenced to 40 months in jail — the longest ever sentence given for a file-sharing offense. The lengthy sentence reflects Cherwonik's "sysop" status in the group, which the authorities said was higher in rank than other members that were handed 23- and 30-month jail terms earlier this month.

The iMAGINE group was prolific until late last year, and was reportedly responsible for 41 percent of all "English-language theatrical audio piracy" between September 2009 and September 2011. An indictment hosted by Wired reveals the group's methods, which included recording camcorder footage in one location while capturing "high-quality" audio in another. Two further members of the group have also pleaded guilty and will be sentenced next year.