Enlarge / Leonardo DiCaprio signs autographs for fans during the Tokyo premiere for "The Revenant" in March.Yuriko Nakao via Getty Images
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The pirate who in December leaked The Revenant and The Peanuts Movie days ahead of their US releases has been ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution to 20th Century Fox and was also handed eight months of home confinement, federal prosecutors said.
The defendant, William Morarity of the Los Angeles suburb of Lancaster, was working for an undisclosed studio lot when he unlawfully accessed watermarked, screener versions of the films and uploaded them to a private BitTorrent site "Pass the Popcorn," according to his guilty plea (PDF). The Revenant was downloaded more than 1 million times and The Peanuts Movie more than 220,000 times, according to court documents. (PDF)
Deirdre Fike, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles field office, said the defendant's behavior is a killer of creativity and jobs. "Mr. Morarity used his position of trust to gain access to sensitive intellectual property, then shared that content online and incurred large-scale losses to the owner of that property," Fike said. "The theft of intellectual property—in this case, major motion pictures—discourages creative incentive and affects the average American making ends meet in the entertainment industry."
The authorities initially sought a year in prison, in addition to the restitution.
But the Los Angeles judge presiding over the case opted for home confinement. Morarity's defense argued that the defendant has a spouse and four children, one with autism.
Morarity, who went by the online handle "clutchit," is on unemployment insurance and is not likely to pay the restitution order.
But the authorities said Morarity did help produce a public service announcement. "Morarity agreed to assist the FBI in the production of a public service announcement to assist the government in educating the public about the harms of copyright infringement and the illegal uploading of movies that are the legal property of the movie studio," Los Angeles prosecutors said in a statement.