Camcorder Pirate Faces Up to 17 Years

It has been going on for well over a decade - as long as camcorders have been small enough to hide away. But up until recently there was no federal law prohibiting it. Now, a 19-year-old Missouri man will be the first person charged under a law enacted in April that prohibits taping movies in movie theaters.

Curtis Salisbury of Saint Charles, Mo. made copies of two movies, "Bewitched" and "A Perfect Man," and then attempted to distribute them on peer-to-peer networks. As well as uploading the movies, Salisbury was also caught downloading other movies and software from the P2P service.

Under federal law, he may be facing up to 17 years in prison.

Salisbury was caught in a June 30 raid on P2P networks in more than a dozen countries, and will face charges of conspiracy and copyright infringement, as well as two counts of the camcorder law for each movie taped.

What is interesting about Salisbury's case is rather than simply uploading the movies and allowing others to download them at no cost like most file sharers, Salisbury was attempting to get payment for download of the movies according to authorities.

While some may laugh at the movies that Salisbury chose to record and pirate -- A Perfect Man was given one star by movie critic Roger Ebert, and Bewitched was a box office flop -- the MPAA doesn't find movie piracy a laughing matter.

According to the MPAA, 90 percent of movies pirated on the Internet while the flick is still in the theater are taped by camcorders, which the industry group claims can severely affect a movie's profit.

However, Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox thought that making a federal case of two sub-par movies wasn't such a good idea. "Maybe the DOJ needs a PR consultant. Do the Feds really want their first landmark case to be about a couple films with lackluster box office returns?" Wilcox asked.

"On the other hand, if the DOJ's intent is to show it will go after pirates of anything, than this first case makes some sense."

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