MUMBAI: A San Diego man pleaded guilty this morning to a felony charge of using the Internet to distribute a pirated copy of Slumdog Millionaire in violation of federal copyright law.
Owen Moody pleaded guilty to uploading a copyrighted work being prepared for commercial distribution, admitting that he uploaded a copy of Slumdog Millionaire late last year to a website, so that others could download the movie over the Internet. Moody also posted a link to the upload at two other Internet websites.
At the time Moody uploaded the movie, it was in limited release in domestic theaters and was not yet available on DVD.
Moody, who used the Internet screen names "Tranceyo" and "Gizmothekitty," found the copy of Slumdog Millionaire on an Internet website called funfile.org, where someone had uploaded a digital copy of the movie that had been sent as an Academy Award "screener" to a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for voting consideration. After searching the Internet and realizing the movie was not readily available to the general public, Moody downloaded the movie from funfile.org and uploaded it, along with creating links to the movie on the two other websites, to make the movie available to the general public.
Although Moody uploaded the movie from his home in San Marcos, the US rights to Slumdog Millionaire under copyright are owned by Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc., which is located in Los Angeles County.
Moody pleaded guilty to the charge before United States District Judge Gary A. Feess in Los Angeles. Judge Feess is scheduled to sentence Moody on 5 October. 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.
Two weeks ago, a Ventura County man who obtained Academy Award screeners of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Australia pleaded guilty to uploading the films to the Internet. Derek Hawthorne of Moorpark, pleaded guilty to two counts of uploading a copyrighted work being prepared for commercial distribution. He is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner on 28 September.
The cases against Moody and Hawthorne were investigated by the United States Secret Service.