California Man Admits to Pirating 'The Revenant' and 'The Peanuts Movie'

An employee on a studio lot copied screeners of unreleased films onto a portable drive and uploaded them to a peer-to-peer site called Pass the Popcorn that allows users to download movies.
 Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

More than a million people were able to illegally download The Revenant thanks to a BitTorrent user who has agreed to plead guilty to copyright infringement, according to a Friday press release from the office of Eileen M. Decker, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. 

William Kyle Morarity admitted to illegally posting screener versions of The Revenant and The Peanuts Movie that he obtained while working on a studio lot, according to the release. 

“As the Academy Awards ceremony this weekend highlights, the entertainment industry is the economic cornerstone of the Central District of California," Decker said in the statement. "The defendant’s conduct harmed the very industry that was providing his livelihood as well as the livelihood of others in Southern California.”

Morarity's arrest and subsequent plea agreement followed an FBI investigation, and it's a reminder that stealing movies is not a victimless crime, according to the release. 

“The FBI will continue to pursue those who steal intellectual property, a crime that negatively impacts the U.S. economy, and in the case of a movie leak, victimizes everyday workers in the entertainment industry,” David Bowdich, assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, said in the statement. 

According to the release, uploading a copyrighted work being prepared for commercial distribution is a felony that carries a maximum penalty of three years in federal prison. 

Morarity will be arraigned next month. 

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