TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Actor Must Pay $309,600 in Film Piracy Case

Actor Must Pay $309,600 in Film Piracy Case

Lisa Minter (
Fri, 26 Nov 2004 19:02:29 EST

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Warner Bros. has secured a
$309,600 judgment against an actor for allegedly making
promotional "screener" copies of "The Last Samurai" and "Mystic River"
available for bootleg DVD copying and unauthorized Internet trading,
the studio said Tuesday.

Studio officials say Carmine Caridi, a former recurring actor on "NYPD
Blue," has refused to respond to their civil suit for copyright
infringement, forcing them to ask the U.S. District Court in Los
Angeles to enter a default judgment of $150,000 per film and
$9,600 in attorney fees.

Judge Stephen Wilson granted that request, adding that the defendant's
conduct was "particularly egregious" because of the intentional and
deliberate nature of the infringement.

Caridi and co-defendant Russell Sprague were caught because the
screeners were individually watermarked for each recipient.

"Judge Wilson's award and comments clearly show that due to the viral
nature of the Internet, even one illegally used copy of a film can
cause significant financial damage," said Darcy Antonellis, senior vp
worldwide anti-piracy operations at Warner Bros. Entertainment. "We
hope that the court's award against Mr. Caridi as well as the criminal
sentence to be handed down against Sprague, whose actions were equally
destructive, will prove a deterrent against the stealing of
intellectual property."

Caridi could not be reached for comment Tuesday, and studio officials
acknowledge that it may be difficult to collect the judgment against
him. Caridi's credits include his role as Det. Vince Gotelli on ABC's
"NYPD Blue."

For his part, Sprague was charged with in federal court with violating
the Digital Millennium Copyright Act leading him to plead guilty March
23. His sentencing is pending, and a civil suit could follow.

According to Warner Bros., Caridi, as a member of the Academy of
Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, signed an agreement before he received
the 2003 awards season screeners promising not to circulate them. It
is believed that he immediately sent the VHS screeners to Sprague in
Homewood, Ill., where they were copied onto DVD and converted to
digital files that were posted on the Internet.

The Academy's board of governors expelled Caridi on Feb. 3 for
violating the agreement.

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