With roughly two billion active users per month, Facebook is by far the largest social networking site around.
While most of the content posted to the site is relatively harmless, some people use it to share things they are not supposed to. A pirated copy of Deadpool, for example.
This is what the now 22-year-old Trevon Franklin from Fresno, California, did early 2016. Just a week after the first installment of the box-office hit Deadpool premiered in theaters, he shared a pirated copy of the movie on the social network.
To be clear, Franklin wasn’t the person who originally made the copy available. He simply downloaded it from the file-sharing site Putlocker.is and then proceeded to upload it to his Facebook account, using the screen name “Tre-Von M. King.”
This post went viral with more than six million viewers ‘tuning in.’ This also caught the attention of Twentieth Century Fox, and to make matters worse, the FBI launched a full-fledged investigation.
With all Facebook credentials readily available Franklin was an easy catch. Last summer he was indictment. Faced with a limited defense, he signed a plea agreement a few months later, admitting that he indeed uploaded the pirated film.
Yesterday, a federal court in California sentenced Franklin to a prison sentence of three weeks.
The sentence is significantly lower than the high-end sentence of six months’ prison recommended by the Government last month. The authorities argued that a higher sentence was warranted given the “brazen and public” manner in which Franklin broke the law and how he “appeared not to care” how this would affect the makers of the movie.
The Government noted that a six-month prison sentence would send a strong message to Facebook users and the public at large, to show that there are real consequences for such a crime.
It appears, however, that the Court was receptive to the defense counsel’s argument that Franklin has no prior criminal record and regrets the mistakes that were made.
It’s unclear why the US Government decided to pursue this case to begin with. Copyright infringement isn’t exactly rare on Facebook. However, it may be that the media attention and the high number of views may have prompted the authorities to set an example.