Academy boots actor involved in screener controversy

February 10, 2004

The Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have voted unanimously to expel member Carmine Caridi. The 42-member board decided to revoke Caridi’s membership after the 69-year-old actor admitted to the FBI that he had passed on Academy Award “screener tapes” to another person, violating a signed agreement.

The tapes were given to Russell William Sprague of Homewood, Ill., and eventually wound up on the Internet. Federal authorities arrested Sprague at his home and charged with copyright violations and receiving illegal satellite-to-home television signals. Both men are also being sued by Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros. Entertainment, two of the studios whose films became available on the Internet.

“We had hoped that this situation would not arise. But we’re obligated not only to the distribution companies who have provided our members with ‘screeners,’ but to those members as well, to live up to our part of the bargain and to enforce our commitment to safeguard the videotapes sent to us,” said academy president Frank Pierson. Caridi was not available for comment.

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