Three brothers from Fremont are facing criminal digital piracy charges in Alameda County Superior Court for allegedly operating a website that provided bootleg versions of copyrighted television shows and movies.
Hop Hoang, 26; Tony Hoang, 23; and Huynh Hoang, 20, were charged in a criminal complaint filed May 2 by prosecutors from the office of California Attorney General Kamala Harris.
The three men, who allegedly offered pirated productions through a website called MediaMP4.com, made an initial appearance in Superior Court on Thursday, Harris said.
Hop Hoang was arraigned and pleaded not guilty to the charges. He is due to return to court for a pretrial conference on July 19, according to his defense attorney, Michael Thorman.
Thorman declined to comment on the charges, saying, “This is a brand new case and I need to find out more about it.”
The two younger brothers are due to return to court on July 18 to be assigned public defenders.
All three siblings are charged with one count of conspiracy to receive stolen property between 2010 and 2012 and one count of grand theft of personal property in the form of movie and television titles.
Hop and Tony Hoang are each charged with four additional counts of receiving stolen property in 2011 and 2012.
The complaint alleges the website listed more than 1,000 copyrighted television and movie titles that could be selected for on-demand use. They included the show “How I Met Your Mother” and the films “Black Swan,” “Tangled” and “Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows Part 1,” Harris said.
The studios that owned the films and shows included Universal, Sony, 20th Century Fox and Fox Searchlight, according to the complaint.
Harris said the brothers allegedly received $150,000 in advertising revenue during the 18 months in which the site was operated. If convicted, she said, they could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.
The investigation began when the Motion Picture Association of America started looking into two previous websites operated by Tony Hoang and sent him a cease-and-desist letter, Harris said.
After the brothers allegedly resumed the project under the new name, MediaMP4.com, the state attorney general’s office opened a probe, executed a search warrant and filed charges, Harris said.
Julia Cheever, Bay City News