A well-known YouTuber called Omi In A Hellcat has been indicted by the FBI in a $30 million dollar TV piracy scam. The accusation is that Omi In A Hellcat, real name Bill Omar Carrasquillo, stole millions of dollars through an illegal paid streaming service that pirated copyrighted television shows and movies. The feds were apparently watching him for years, between 2016 and 2019, before the indictment landed. The charges levied against him include conspiracy to commit copyright infringement, tax evasion, and fraud.
Just by looking at the charges against Omi, the Feds don’t really have a strong case. First, let’s take a look at what Omi actually did. He created several “streaming services”, most notably one called Gears TV. This was essentially a Twitch channel that he streamed television shows and movies on. Omi sold “jailbroken” Amazon Firesticks so people could access the channel through a paid subscription of around $15 per month. So he was paid from the devices and the subscription. This went on for years with no problem because it is not illegal.
Omi In A Hellcat is also a popular YouTuber aside from the streaming services which was his bread and butter. He flashed lots of money, cars, a big house out in the Philadelphia Metro area of New Jersey. This popularity brought a lot of attention to himself. The Federal Government also took notice. This could be why charges are now levied against him. Carrasquillo stated that some of his colleagues operated in the same grey area as him and are only facing lawsuits, not criminal charges. The indictment shows that the FBI is not actually charging him for what the media are hyping up. If he committed “copyright infringement”, that would be the charge. Not “conspiracy to commit copyright infringement”.
The fatal mistake made here was a failure to pay taxes. Carrasquillo made the mistake of hiring a normal H&R Block tax preparer to help him with his tax situation. Obviously, a person like that is best suited to deal with normal people’s W2 forms. Not with multiple LLCs and obscure tax law that operates within a grey area. Without the tax evasion charge, this case ultimately goes nowhere.
There is no law on the books that specifically outlines the criminality of streaming copyrighted material. The only law that comes close to talking about this is a very old law dealing with possession with intent to distribute physical copies of copyrighted material such as VHS tapes and/or CDs and DVDs. Copyright laws are old and need to be updated. In the meantime, an example is being made out of Omi In A Hellcat because he did not pay taxes.
Omi in a Hellcat indicted in TV piracy scam
YouTuber ‘Omi in a Hellcat’ has been arrested for pirating cable from Comcast, Verizon, and others
iTunes’ 10th Anniversary: How Steve Jobs Turned the Industry Upside Down – Rolling Stone
Federal piracy: Popular YouTuber ‘Omi in a Hellcat’ speaks out on case | Fox News
How Hip-Hop Survived The Atlanta Mixtape Raid – MTV