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A sign warning moviegoers that recording devices such as movie cameras are not permitted in movie theatres is seen outside the entrance to a theatre at the Cineplex Silvercity theatre at Yonge and Eglinton in TorontoLouie Palu/The Globe and Mail

A Canadian man who drew international attention for illegally copying movies has been handed a two-and-a-half-month prison sentence.

In a landmark decision, Geremi Adam will also be forced to perform 100 hours of community service, and has been given a two-year suspended sentence.

Prosecutors had wanted him to serve four months behind bars, but they're still heralding the sentence as the toughest of its kind in Canada.

The 27-year-old was once considered by the FBI to be among the most prolific movie pirates in North America.

He pleaded guilty to two counts, under the Copyright Act, for distributing copied Hollywood films on the Internet under the alias maVen.

The movies were then distributed for a fee by a network.

During his sentencing hearing, the court heard that Mr. Adam only recorded the movies for notoriety and not really for monetary gain.

Mr. Adam is also detained on an unrelated charge.

The maximum sentence he could have received was six months in jail and a $25,000 fine.

The charges against Mr. Adam came shortly before the Conservatives introduced tougher camcording laws in June 2007.

The new law made recording a movie without permission a crime punishable by two years in jail, and taping a film for future sale or rental now carries a maximum five-year jail term.

Canada has been considered a hotbed of illegal film reproduction, and that has been an irritant in relations with the U.S.

Industry figures blamed Canada for between 20 and 70 per cent of global camcords and huffed that Montreal alone was responsible for up to a quarter of the world figure.

Even the governor of California, former action-movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger, referred to the country's reputation during a visit to Canada.

But in an interview with The Canadian Press last summer, the RCMP said the number of complaints had dropped drastically.

In two previous movie piracy cases, one in Montreal and one in Calgary, the two accused were handed fines or probationary sentences. They were also both banned from movie theatres for a period of time.