Four US men have pleaded guilty to being part of a ring that distributed illegal copies of pre-release music on the internet.
The US Justice Department said the charges against the four men were the first to stem from the authorities’ Operation FastLink investigation.
The four men from North Carolina, Colorado, Oregon and Virginia have pleaded guilty to copyright infringement as a result of distributing digital copies of music before it was commercially released.
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They face up to five years in jail and a fine of up $250,000 (£145,000) when they are sentenced in May.
The internet groups the men belonged to had names such as Apocalypse Crew and Chromance.
They acquired digital copies of songs and albums before they were commercially released in the US, and posted them onto the internet for distribution.