Steinbach digital pirate gets sentenced

A Steinbach man has been handed what justice officials say is one of the harshest copyright-infringement sentences ever in the country after RCMP busted him for running an elaborate digital bootlegging business from his basement.

On March 28, Jonathon Donais, 30, was handed an 18-month sentence of strict house arrest and a $20,000 fine after pleading guilty in provincial court to two federal charges of copyright infringement.

The maximum penalty on the books is a $1-million fine and five years in prison.

From March 2006 until a May 13, 2010 RCMP raid at his home, Donais used the online alias of ‘joncrytom’ to advertise cut-rate sales of bootlegged movies, popular TV shows, music and software on a classifieds website, court heard.

RCMP seized computers, 11,000 CDs and DVDs and a DVD burner capable of duplicating 56 discs an hour in their search.

The court heard how Donais had customers as far away as Australia willing to skirt the law and save huge by buying his unauthorized digital copies of shows like CSI, Law & Order and The Office, court documents state. By tracing PayPal receipts, RCMP learned Donais had pocketed in the range of $76,500 over the years, including shipping fees.

Donais apparently had no clue he was under suspicion for years, after RCMP caught wind of counterfeit software being sold under his online alias in 2008.

The Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association conducted a separate anti-piracy investigation in 2009. They set up an undercover buy of a bootlegged TV series that linked back to Donais.

A few months later, RCMP conducted their own undercover sting in a similar fashion — a tactic leading to the raid. Prior to that, police sifted through his trash and found evidence of his dealings.

Jonathon Donais was handed a $20,000 fine and 18 months of jail (conditional sentence) for copyright infringement — the toughest penalty yet, in Canada. RCMP photos show some of the DVD-copying equipment seized from his home in Steinbach on May 13, 2010.


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