LOS ANGELES – City Attorney Mike Feuer today announced that his office has filed a civil lawsuit seeking to stop memory card music piracy in downtown Los Angeles. The lawsuit is believed to be the first civil enforcement action for memory card piracy by a prosecutor in the United States. "Music piracy undermines one of L.A.'s signature industries, robbing our workforce of precious jobs, depriving our city of needed tax revenue and frustrating artists' creativity," said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. "My office is committed to aggressively rein in this serious crime."
“Criminals know that it’s easier than ever to load thousands of songs on a digital storage device like memory cards and sell them for a significant profit. This is no petty crime – it’s illegal for good reason: it threatens music business jobs and damages the important cultural and economic footprint of the music community throughout Los Angeles,” said Marcus Cohen, Vice President, Anti-Piracy Field Investigations, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). “That’s why actions like this by the LA City Attorney’s Office are so important. It helps send a strong message to would-be criminals that this type of illicit practice won’t go unpunished. We appreciate the efforts of the office and thank them for their great work.”
Defendant Leopoldo Lara, 29, is named in the lawsuit alleging unfair business practices including the repeated sale of counterfeit and pirated music and movies on CD’s and DVD’s. Recently, Lara began selling music and video games on memory cards, small portable electronic data storage devices. The lawsuit is seeking stay-away orders for Lara from the entire Fashion District as well as injunctive terms designed to prohibit future counterfeit sales.
Lara has been allegedly selling counterfeit and pirated goods in the Fashion District of downtown Los Angeles since at least 2003. Law enforcement has documented more than 20 incidents involving Lara including arrests, four convictions, and 10 cease and desist letters. Lara has sold or possessed for sale, at least 11,838 counterfeit and pirated items with an estimated retail value in excess of $280,000. Memory cards sold in downtown Los Angeles can store 800 songs or more and are more difficult for law enforcement to spot than CDs and DVD’s.
The City Attorney’s Office is proud to have one of the only counterfeit abatement units in the United States utilizing both criminal and civil abatement lawsuits. In the past year, the City Attorney has successfully prosecuted and filed against chronic counterfeiters including securing a $3.9 million judgment and permanent injunction against a downtown merchant for the sale and possession of counterfeit goods.
Deputy City Attorney Kevin A. Gilligan of the City Attorney’s Federal and Local Special Abatement Operations prosecuted the case through funding by the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance.