Over six months after pleading guilty to copyright infringement for illegally posting screener versions of The Revenant and The Peanuts Movie online, a former studio employee now has to pay Twentieth Century Fox some big bucks and stay home for almost a year.
William Kyle Morarity was sentenced on September 26 to having to hand over $1.2 million in restitution to the studio plus eight months’ home detention and then 24 months’ probation. As a part of a deal with the U.S. Attorney’s office, Morarity also helped the feds put together a PSA on the pitfalls and consequences of piracy – something he has now obviously learned about personally.
As detailed back in February when he entered his plea, Morarity got a hold of the screeners while on a studio lot. He then copied them onto a portable drive and then uploaded the movie to a BitTorrent site called Pass the Popcorn in mid-December 2015, say the FBI. With the Oscar winning Leonardo DeCaprio starring pic going up online almost a week before its release, it’s estimated that more than a million downloads of the pic were made over the subsequent month and a half. It is also estimated that such actions cost Fox more that $1 million in lost revenue.
Prosecutors had sought a year behind bars for Morarity but due to family circumstances argued by his lawyers no jail time, a very big financial burden and home arrest were deemed the best consequences by the court – and a warning to others.
“The film industry creates thousands of jobs in Southern California,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker this week. “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.”
Assistant United States Attorney Jennie Wang handled the case for the feds.