LOS ANGELES – An ex-studio employee from Lancaster who illegally uploaded pre-release versions of triple Oscar winner “The Revenant” and “The Peanuts Movie” to the internet must pay $1.2 million to 20th Century Fox, court papers show.
William Kyle Morarity, 31, was also sentenced in Los Angeles this week to eight months’ home detention and two years probation in addition to restitution.
As a result of the illegal upload, “The Revenant” was available for download six days before its limited release in theaters and more than 1 million people were able to access the film within a six-week period, causing 20th Century Fox to suffer losses of well over $1 million, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
“The film industry creates thousands of jobs in Southern California,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “The defendant’s illegal conduct caused significant harm to the victim movie studio. The fact that the defendant stole these films while working on the lot of a movie studio makes his crime more egregious.”
As part of his plea deal, Morarity taped a public service announcement to assist in educating the public about the harms of copyright infringement and the illegal uploading of movies, prosecutors said.
Morarity was working for an undisclosed Hollywood studio last year when he acquired preview copies of the films, copied them to a portable drive and shared them with the Pass the Popcorn BitTorrent site, according to court documents.
Morarity, who used the screen name “clutchit,” pleaded guilty in March to a federal charge of uploading copyrighted work being prepared for commercial distribution, a felony offense that carries a sentence of up to three years in federal prison.
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