LOS ANGELES – A Lancaster man pleaded guilty Wednesday to copyright infringement for illegally posting screener versions of triple Oscar winner “The Revenant” and “The Peanuts Movie” to a file-sharing website.
As a result of the illegal upload, more than 1 million people were able to download “The Revenant,” which caused Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. to suffer losses of well over $1 million, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
William Kyle Morarity, who used the screen name “clutchit,” admitted the criminal conduct in a plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
He pleaded guilty to uploading copyrighted work being prepared for commercial distribution, a felony offense that carries a sentence of up to three years in federal prison, prosecutors said.
U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson set a June 13 sentencing hearing.
An attorney for Morarity could not immediately be reached.
Morarity, 31, obtained the screeners without authorization while at work on a studio lot, according to his plea agreement.
Morarity copied the screeners onto a portable drive and uploaded the movies from his home computer on Dec. 17 and 19 to a BitTorrent website called Pass the Popcorn, which allowed downloading via a peer-to-peer network, according to court documents.
“The Revenant” was uploaded six days prior to its limited release in theaters.
Eileen M. Decker, the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, said the “entertainment industry is the economic cornerstone of the Central District of California. Therefore, my office is committed to protecting its intellectual property.”
Morarity’s “conduct harmed the very industry that was providing his livelihood as well as the livelihood of others in Southern California,” she said.
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2 comments for "Lancaster man pleads guilty to illegally distributing hit films online"
The argument that every download is a lost sale is false. The guy is guilty of piracy, out right, but typical Hollywood style fudging of numbers to set a better scene if you will.
I’d feel worse about the money The Revenant lost if they had actually filmed any of it in California, but sure enough, of the 15 listed filming locations, the closest they ever came was Arizona. I get it though, not like there’s any suitable wilderness in the state.
Lost money, Lets put it this way, people who don’t go to see the movie affect not just the industry but everyone down to the people who work at the movie theater. Loss in ticket sales means less people there, Less views means less staff needed meaning someones hours gets cut and they don’t get paid. While the studios im sure can absorb the loss the people who work the theater will not be able so.