You can imitate the singer, but you can't copy the song

  • Article by: DAN BROWNING , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 23, 2007 - 11:37 PM

A Burnsville woman could do time for pirating karaoke tunes.

What's the difference between a wannabe diva pretending to be Sheryl Crow in a karaoke bar and someone who simply copies and sells the music without permission?

For Tracy Ann Brock, 43, of Burnsville, the answer could be 18 to 24 months in federal prison.

Brock, the president and co-owner of Star Music Inc., has pleaded guilty to copying "hundreds of thousands of songs ... worth hundreds of thousands of dollars" between April 2004 and July 2006.

U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose said in a news release Monday that it is the "first ever criminal conviction related to infringement of copyrighted karaoke music and is part of the Department of Justice's broader initiative to combat online auction piracy."

Brock told U.S. District Judge David Doty that she copied 20,000 to 40,000 songs onto hard drives and sold them on eBay, on other sites and through direct sales for use in karaoke machines.

"I'm here to plead guilty of conspiring to violate copyright laws," said Brock, who has agreed to help prosecute others involved in the conspiracy in a deal that will spare her additional charges.

FBI agents raided Brock's home and seized equipment used in the pirating operation. In exchange for her plea, the government agreed not to pursue additional charges against her that might arise from the conspiracy.

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