According to a criminal complaint filed by the FBI, following a high-profile leak, Chicago resident Jorge Romero uploaded the first 4 episodes of this season’s ’24′ to a YouTube-style site before it aired on TV and is now facing 3 years in jail.
The FBI claim that Romero uploaded the first 2 episodes on January 6, followed by the next 2 episodes on January 7 and posted hyperlinks on other websites to ensure that the maximum number of people could find and view them. Romero apparently confessed that he previously downloaded the episodes from another web site before uploading them to LiveDigital.com.
Romero’s identity was reportedly revealed after Fox TV owner News Corp sent a subpoena to LiveDigital demanding the uploader’s details.
An FBI spokesman said, “Romero is charged in the criminal complaint with uploading copyrighted material to a publicly accessible computer network knowing the work was intended for commercial distribution.”
Fox TV put out a statement thanking the FBI for their work;
“We hope it will serve as a powerful warning that uploading copyrighted TV shows and movies to the Internet can be a crime with significant penalties and will be prosecuted as such. Video-hosting sites such as LiveDigital.com and YouTube are not copyright-free zones, and individuals like Jorge Romero who post episodes of television shows, particularly before they are even broadcast for the first time, will face harsh civil and criminal sanctions.”
Uploaders of pre-release copyright material are targeted by the FBI as these actions are considered criminal in the US and usually carry a custodial sentence, which is great for headline-grabbing when trying to deter future pirates. However, it is up for debate whether or not these pre-releases actually have any negative effect on viewing figures. Indeed, just this week the President of Lions Gate movies said that even though their latest blockbuster ‘Hostel: Part 2″ was leaked onto the internet, it would have “no meaningful impact” on box office takings.