Sunday, December 03, 2006

Movie Pirate captured after running like hell...

Wall Street Journal reports -

LOS ANGELES -- A federal judge here sentenced Johnny Ray Gasca, a movie pirate caught red-handed several times, to seven years in prison, less time than he might have received under harsher laws he inspired.

Mr. Gasca, a New Yorker who was discovered filming movies with a handheld camera three times in 2002 and 2003, became the poster boy for movie piracy. His brazen conduct led in part to Congress's 2005 toughening of movie piracy laws to make illegal filming a felony instead of a misdemeanor.

Mr. Gasca often enlisted friends to sit beside and in front of him at movies, so no one would stand up and interrupt his filming. He often snuck into pre-release screenings. When caught taping "Anger Management" in 2003, he dumped his tape into his friend's popcorn and escaped, but was later caught. In early 2004, he told his lawyer he needed to buy cold medicine and then escaped from a drug store. It took federal agents more than a year to track him down in a Florida motel, where he was found with stacks of movies and copying equipment.

Judge Dean D. Pregerson sentenced Mr. Gasca to one year for each of the three piracy charges, the maximum penalty under the older law. Under the new law, he could have received up to three years for each incident. The remaining four years stem from other charges, including false use of a Social Security number, witness retaliation, and escape.

After his sentencing, Mr. Gasca stood up and said the case was a conspiracy by the government, according to prosecutor Elena Duarte. Mr. Gasca's attorney did not respond to a call for comment. In July, Mr. Gasca told CBS News that he was working on a novel version of his previously written screenplay, "The Prince of Piracy."

The movie industry pushed hard for the tighter laws for in-theater pirates because they are the first link in elaborate distribution chains that create the millions of illegal DVDs that are sold world-wide.

No comments: