June 25, 2003 2:38 PM PDT
Copyright infringement bad; Hulk smash!
A New Jersey man learned that the hard way Wednesday, and faces up to three years in prison and $250,000 in fines after pleading guilty to distributing a pirated copy of "The Hulk," the tale of a wayward scientist who turns into a machinery-smashing monster whenever he gets mad.
Kerry Gonzalez of Hamilton, N.J., pleaded guilty to felony copyright infringement charges in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's office.
About two weeks before the movie's public premier on June 20, Gonzalez obtained a videotape of an advance "work print" of the movie from a friend who worked at an advertising agency connected with the film, according to the complaint filed by U.S. Attorney James Comey. Gonzalez copied the movie to his home computer and used software tools to defeat security protections embedded in the movie to prevent unauthorized duplication.
Gonzalez had a satisfactory digital copy by June 6, according to the complaint, and began sharing it with fellow film buffs who frequented an Internet chat room devoted to bootleg movies.
Bootleg copies of major films, such as "The Matrix Reloaded," often begin circulating on the Internet before the movie hits theaters.
Gonzalez was identified as a result of an investigation by the FBI's Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Squad, according to the statement. He will by sentenced Sept. 26 and faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, an advocate of increased federal intervention in copyright issues, hailed the investigation.
"While 'The Hulk' is a comic book hero known to millions, copyright pirates practice their illegal trade in relative anonymity," he said in a statement. "Today, the FBI brought the face of copyright piracy public, and for that they are to be commended."
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