A Missouri man was the first to be indicted under a new federal law that prohibits people from secretly videotaping movies when they are shown in theaters, the U.S. Justice Department announced last week.
Curtis Salisbury, 19, of St. Charles, MO, used a camcorder to make copies of recent releases “The Perfect Man’” and “Bewitched.” He then distributed them through illicit computer networks that specialize in piracy. A law that took effect in April prohibits such behavior.
Salisbury, who faces up to 17 years in prison, also downloaded several movies and software programs from a computer network.
Entertainment-industry insiders and tech-savvy hackers use warez networks to distribute movies, music and software for free, often before they’re released to the public. The files then end up on peer-to-peer networks like Kazaa, where they can be downloaded by millions of people, or burned onto discs and sold on street corners, Reuters reported.
Law enforcement officials said most participants in warez networks are generally not motivated by profit. In this instance, Salisbury sought payment for the movies he uploaded. The government has targeted warez networks before, most recently in a June 30 raid that involved more than a dozen countries.
Salisbury was arrested as part of that effort. He has been charged with conspiracy and copyright infringement, along with two violations of the camcorder law.
Camcorder piracy accounts for more than 90 percent of movies that turn up on the Internet while they’re still in theaters, the Motion Picture Association of America said.