LANCASTER – A 31-year-old Lancaster man, who worked on a studio lot gaining access to pre-released movies and made them publicly accessible through a website was sentenced for criminal copyright infringement yesterday.
William Kyle Morarity obtained screeners of “The Revanant” and “The Peanuts Movie” without authorization, uploading them onto a portable drive. He then uploaded the movies from his home computer on December 17th and 19th, 2015, to a website called “Pass the Popcorn, which allows downloading via a peer-to-peer network.
“The Revanant” was made available by William Kyle Morarity six days prior to its limited release in theaters. More than 1 million people were able to download the film within a six-week period. This act, according to U.S. Department of Justice officials caused Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation to suffer losses of over $1 million.
“Mr. Morarity used his position of trust to gain access to sensitive intellectual property, then shared that content online and incurred large-scale losses to the owner of that property,” said Deirdre Fike, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “The theft of intellectual property – in this case, major motion pictures – discourages creative incentive and affects the average American making ends meet in the entertainment industry.”
Morarity, screen name “clutchit” pleaded guilty earlier in the year and was sentenced to eight months of home detention and 24 months of probation on Wednesday, September 28, 2016. Morarity is also ordered to pay restitution of $1.12 million to Twentieth Century Fox.
“The film industry creates thousands of jobs in Southern California,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “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.”
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