Police Arrest Two For Intercepting Films In Piracy Scheme - InformationWeek

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12/6/2006
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Police Arrest Two For Intercepting Films In Piracy Scheme

Police said a 22-year-old Los Angeles receptionist stole copies of films sent to the accounting firm where she worked, which received advance copies of DVDs on behalf of a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Police said 22-year-old Los Angeles receptionist Sheryl Demesa stole copies of films sent to the accounting firm where she worked and lent them to her cousin John Acas, also 22. The firm received the advance copies of DVDs on behalf of a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Demesa has been charged with second-degree burglary and embezzlement. Acas is accused of uploading the films to the Internet and selling them.

The screeners are watermarked, which allows investigators to trace the source of illegal copies. Members of the Southern California High Tech Task Force arrested the pair after Acas allegedly tried to make a sale to an undercover agent.

"This should serve as a reminder to all those participating in the [Academy Awards] voting process to keep these films safe from people who may seek to sell them for a profit," said Dan Glickman, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, said in a statement. "These arrests come days after Johnny Ray Gasca -- a notorious movie pirate -- received a seven year prison sentence for activities related to movie piracy, and demonstrate to movie thieves that not only does Hollywood take piracy seriously, but law enforcement authorities take it very seriously as well."

The MPAA claims that the film industry lost $18.2 billion in 2005 because of illegal distribution and sales. The group said more than $7 billion of the losses were due to illegal distribution over the Internet.

The MPAA is trying to educate people about piracy, strengthen copyright laws, and work with law enforcement authorities around the world to halt the practice.

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