RealTime IT News

Camcording Warez Dealer Bagged by Feds

Federal officials scored their first arrest Wednesday under a newly enacted law prohibiting the recording of movies in theaters. The arrest is part of a wider Department of Justice (DoJ) campaign against major online distributors of illegal software, music, movies and games.

Curtis Salisbury, 19, of St. Charles, Mo., was charged in a five-count indictment claiming he used a camcorder in movie theaters to copy recent theatrical releases. He then uploaded the copies to a computer network for distribution.

In addition to the movies The Perfect Man and Bewitched, Salisbury is accused of illegally downloading the movie Madagascar and software programs from Sony and Adobe.

According to the indictment issued in San Jose, Calif., Salisbury communicated with others about how to remove identifying features on a film that reveal the originating theater of a particular film. Additionally, he allegedly discussed receiving payment for the films that he would provide.

"Camcording movies in theaters for online distribution is a crime," U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan said in a statement. "This case represents the first prosecution under the Family Entertainment Copyright Act, and demonstrates that the U.S. Attorney's Office ... will aggressively employ the tools provided by Congress and the president to combat the theft of intellectual property."

President Bush signed the new bill on April 27. One part of that statute, known as the ART Act (Artists' Rights and Theft Prevention Act of 2005), criminalizes the use of recording equipment to make copies of movies in movie theaters.

Salisbury is charged with one count of conspiracy and two counts of copyright infringement for distributing a copyrighted work on a computer network, as well as two counts of unauthorized recording of motion pictures in a motion picture exhibition facility.

The maximum penalty for each count of the first three counts is five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. The harshest penalty for each count of camcording a movie is three years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

The indictments also include a criminal forfeiture and destruction allegation to forfeit and destroy recording equipment and unauthorized copies.

Salisbury's arrest and indictment is part of a continuing investigation known in Northern California as Operation Copycat. To date, the campaign has resulted in five indictments and the execution of more than 40 search warrants nationwide.

Operation Copycat is part of a larger, coordinated international law enforcement action known as Operation Site Down, which is targeting online piracy.

In July, the DoJ announced the indictments of eight individuals for criminal copyright infringement under Operation Site Down. The anti-piracy sweeps resulted in more than 200 search warrants executed in 15 countries and the confiscation of hundreds of computers and illegal online distribution hubs.

According to the DoJ, the busts netted more than $100 million worth of illegally copied materials.