A former studio worker has agreed to plead guilty to copyright infringement for illegally posting a screener version of The Revenant on a publicly accessible website six days before the film opened in December. The U.S. Attorney’s office says the uploading cost 20th Century Fox well over $1 million in lost revenue.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, William Kyle Morarity obtained the screener while at work at an unspecified studio, copied it onto a portable drive and then uploaded the movie to a BitTorrent site called Pass the Popcorn. According to the FBI, which investigated the case, more than a million people downloaded the film. Morarity also agreed to plead guilty to doing the same thing involving a screener of The Peanuts Movie.
“As the Academy Awards ceremony this weekend highlights, the entertainment industry is the economic cornerstone of the Central District of California,” said U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker. “Therefore, my office is committed to protecting its intellectual property. The defendant’s conduct harmed the very industry that was providing his livelihood as well as the livelihood of others in Southern California.”
Said David Bowdich, assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office: “Stealing movies is not a victimless crime. The FBI will continue to pursue those who steal intellectual property, a crime that negatively impacts the U.S. economy and, in the case of a movie leak, victimizes everyday workers in the entertainment industry.”
Morarity will be arraigned next month on a felony charge of uploading copyrighted work being prepared for commercial distribution. He faces a maximum of three years in federal prison.