SoCal Man Charged With Pirating Oscar Screener Tape
2/17/2006 2:30 PM PT
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
A man who allegedly uploaded a copy of the movie "Walk the Line" that was intended for an Academy Award voter was charged Thursday with one count of copyright infringement.
Luis Ochoa, 25, of Corona faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine if convicted. He's scheduled to appear in federal court March 28, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Hoffstadt.
Ochoa allegedly said in an Internet chat room that he wanted to put online a special copy of the Johnny Cash biopic, which was supplied in advance to Oscar voters.
A chat room participant contacted the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which set up a fake movie-swapping Web site where Ochoa allegedly uploaded the film on Dec. 21.
"The MPAA set up a server specifically for him," Hoffstadt said. "They didn't want to actually have him upload the film to the Internet, so they did the server for him."
There is no phone listing for Ochoa in Corona and he could not immediately be located for comment.
In 2004, an Illinois man was convicted of illegally copying and distributing scores of Oscar screeners. Russell William Sprague, 52, of Homewood, Ill., died in his jail cell while awaiting sentencing in Los Angeles.
Hoffstadt said the film Ochoa allegedly uploaded was taken from the mail before it reached its intended recipient. A digital watermark identified it as an Academy screener film.
"Walk the Line" is up for five Oscars at next month's Academy Awards, including best acting nominations for Joaquin Phoenix, who played Cash, and Reese Witherspoon, who portrayed the musician's wife and music partner, June Carter Cash.