Eight individuals were charged today in relation to a series of events in which a man took a copy of Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith from a post-production facility and shared it with others, one of whom put the movie on the Internet the day before the film opened world wide.
In other copyright infringement cases involving Hollywood, two others were charged today with distributing copies of Academy Awards “ screeners” and movies that had not been released for home viewing.
According to court documents filed this morning in United States District Court in Los Angeles, just days before the worldwide release of the final Star Wars movie, several events transpired:
A criminal information charges Valente, who has agreed to plead guilty, with willfully infringing a copyright by distributing his copy of Star Wars: Episode III. A criminal complaint charges Lumada, Valdez, Fousse, Sityar, Gima and Dimaano with willfully infringing a copyright by distributing or reproducing copies of the film. These seven defendants are charged with misdemeanors that carry up to one year in federal prison.
Hoaglin is charged in the same complaint with one count of uploading the movie onto the Internet, a felony under the recently enacted Family Entertainment Copyright Act. Hoaglin, if convicted, could be sentenced to as much as three years in federal prison.
All eight defendants have been summoned to appear in federal court in Los Angeles next month.
In an unrelated case, Ronald Redding, 37, of Linthicum Heights, Maryland, was charged this morning with giving his copy of Million Dollar Baby to a friend, even though the movie had been provided to him solely to “screen” for purposes of voting for the Academy Awards. The information charges Redding, who has agreed to plead guilty, with a misdemeanor charge of willfully infringing a copyright by distributing this film.
Informations and criminal complaints contain allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
In a third case, Eric Wright, 43, of Bellflower, California, pleaded guilty yesterday to a single count of trafficking in counterfeit DVD labels attached to copyrighted movies. Appearing before United States District Judge Audrey B. Collins, Wright admitted making unauthorized copies of The Incredibles and Friday Night Lights, affixing counterfeit labels to those copies, and selling the DVDs to others. Wright, who faces up to five years in federal prison, is scheduled to be sentenced on December 12.
These cases were investigated by the Los Angeles Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.