Home Los Angeles Press Releases 2009 Three Charged in Movie Piracy Cases Involving Illegal Posting of Theatrical Films on Internet
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Three Charged in Movie Piracy Cases Involving Illegal Posting of Theatrical Films on Internet
Screeners of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and ‘Benjamin Button’ Were Made Available

U.S. Attorney’s Office February 20, 2009
  • Central District of California (213) 894-2434

Three Southern California men have been charged in separate cases with distributing pirated copies of Hollywood movies such as “Slumdog Millionaire” and  "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"  in violation of federal copyright law.

This morning, a federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted two men on federal charges of uploading a copyrighted work being prepared for commercial distribution. In one case, Owen Moody, 24, of San Marcos, was charged with uploading a copy of “Slumdog Millionaire” late last year to a website called thepiratebay.org. In a second case, Derek Hawthorne, 21, of Moorpark, was named in a two-count indictment that charges him with uploading "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and “Australia” to websites, where visitors could download the movies to their own computers. Both men have been asked to surrender to federal authorities next week. The charge of uploading a copyrighted work carries a statutory maximum penalty of three years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine or twice the gross gain or gross loss attributable to the offense, whichever is greater

The third case announced today involves the posting of a pre-release “screener” copy of the movie “The Love Guru.” Jack Yates, 28, of Porter Ranch, was arrested last week after being named in a criminal complaint that accused him of criminal copyright infringement and making false statements to the FBI, charges that carry a statutory maximum penalty of six years in prison.

Paramount Pictures was set to release the movie “The Love Guru” in theaters on June 20, 2008. According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, a screener copy to promote the movie was prepared for “The Tonight Show.”  When the movie was being copied by a company hired by Paramount Pictures, Yates – who was then an employee of that company – illegally made a copy of the movie. Yates later distributed the copy of the film to others, one of whom uploaded the movie on June 19 and 20, 2008, resulting in it being made available to Internet users. Yates is scheduled to be arraigned on March 16.

Indictments and criminal complaints contain allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in court.

The cases against Moody and Hawthorne were investigated by the United States Secret Service.

The case against Yates is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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