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Piracy Crackdown

30 Sep, 2005 By: John Latchem

The U.S. Attorney last week charged eight people with the illegal distribution of Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith before it was released in theaters.

Court documents allege that Albert Valente, 28, of Lakewood, Calif., took a copy of the film from a postproduction where he worked and gave it to a friend. The copy was passed along until it reached the hands of Marc Hoaglin, 36, of Huntington Beach, Calif., who allegedly uploaded the film onto the Internet May 18.

Also charged in the distribution circle are Jessie Lumada, 28; Ramon Valdez, 30; Michael Fousse, 42; Dwight Sitya, 27; Stephani Reiko Gima, 25; and Joel De Sagun Dimaano, 33. All live in the Long Beach/Los Angeles area.

Federal prosecutors charged Valente with willfully infringing a copyright by distributing his copy of the movie, to which he has agreed to plead guilty, according to reports.

Hoaglin is charged with one felony count of uploading the movie onto the Internet. He faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

The six others were charged with willfully infringing a copyright by distributing or reproducing copies of the film — a misdemeanor charge that carries up to one year in prison.

All eight defendants are scheduled to appear in federal court next month.

The news comes as several other movie pirates were forced to walk the plank last week.

Tuesday, Sept. 27, Curtis Salisbury became the first person convicted of using a camcorder to illegally record a movie under the Family Entertainment Copyright Act, which was signed into law in April.

Salisbury pleaded guilty in June to two charges of making illegal copies of Bewitched and The Perfect Man and distributing them online. He made the copies at a St. Louis theater where he was working; accomplices allegedly joined him after the theater had closed, helping him set up the projection equipment to make his copies.

He will be sentenced Feb. 27 and faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for each count.

Ronald Redding, 37, of Maryland, was charged last week with giving his copy of Million Dollar Baby to a friend. Redding faces a misdemeanor charge of willfully infringing a copyright by distributing the film.

Also last week, Eric Wright, 43, of Bellflower, Calif., pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking in counterfeit DVD labels. Wright admitted making unauthorized copies of The Incredibles and Friday Night Lights, affixing counterfeit labels and then selling the DVDs. He faces up to five years in federal prison when he's sentenced Dec. 12.

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