June 25, 2003 2:38 PM PDT

Copyright infringement bad; Hulk smash!

Don't make a U.S. attorney angry--you wouldn't like him when he's angry.

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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Is it not the same
I remember back when copying music from a LP to a cassette was a big thing and everyone was doing it! However I do not recall anyone getting fined and sent to prison for doing this. Now thanks to the internet it has become bigger and our jails will be filled with honest people downloading music most that have no criminal record or intent to commit a crime. But hey the Feds and FBI are taking it a step farther, and doing there best to make us all look and feel like criminals...
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Copyright law is kinda like a turd sandwich, no matter what you put on it, it still tastes like ****. I guess the real test now will be how Wolverine does at the box office? If it does well, better than expected... you could suggest the leaked copy was a GREAT promotional tool & the FBI would look silly for putting people in jail. Kinda like the last comment posted, remember cassette copies of vinyl, anyone? I often wonder should we be asking the question, can we really legislate the sharing of art? music, movies, audio, video, etc...? if i own a painting and someone steals it, that's theft. if i make copies of my painting and sell them or give them away it's enterprise or charity... if the copies of copies are stolen, sold or given away... what are we really talking about at this point? i think art was meant to be experienced and the need to turn it into a commodity is only detrimental. the reality is today that we all have affordable means to create and share. if your a musician, play music, if your good enough and people want to see it, they'll buy a ticket and go to the show, they'll buy a tee shirt and join your fan club... i guess we wait and see for now... in this economy, what will Wolverine do? I'm curious to see myself... this may be a moment for clarity as to whether or not file-sharing helps or hinders the giant beast in the belly of Hollywood and it's box office appetite.
Posted by hammershipdown (2 comments )
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