Pre-Release Movie ‘Hacker’ Indicted By The Feds

The U.S Department of Justice has accused a 28-year-old Dutchman of stealing pre-release digital copies of the Hollywood blockbusters “How Do You Know,” "Rango" and “Megamind.” The indictment comes on the heels of the Sony hack, which prompted Hollywood to demand tougher cybersecurity laws.

hackedYear in and year out dozens of movies leak online, some long before they are set to appear in theaters.

These pre-release leaks are of great concern to Hollywood and the cases often see the FBI become involved. But despite law enforcement’s best efforts the leakers are seldom identified.

This week, however, a federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted Dutch resident Joey Vogelaar for unlawfully obtaining three Hollywood movies back in November 2010.

The now 28-year-old from Delft allegedly accessed the Sony Pictures Entertainment film “How Do You Know,” Paramount’s “Rango” and the Dreamworks movie “Megamind,” all of which were unreleased at the time.

A copy of the indictment obtained by TF (pdf) shows that Vogelaar, also known under the aliases “TyPeR” and “neXus”, is accused of computer hacking and identity theft. Interestingly, no copyright infringement charges have been filed.

The Dutchman allegedly “hacked” into the computer of a company involved in the production of the three movies. The term “hacking” should be used loosely here, as Vogelaar appears to have accessed the computer with the login credentials of an employee, who’s mentioned by the initials T.H.

How the man obtained the login credentials is unknown, but it’s not unlikely that they were already available online.

For the computer hacking charge Vogelaar faces five years in prison, and a possible identity theft sentence could add two more years – if he’s extradited to the United States.

First the defendant will have to be served but according to his father, Ben, they haven’t yet been informed of the charges. “We’ll wait, it’ll be okay,” he says.

The Department of Justice is taking the case very seriously, especially with the Sony hack fresh in mind. This hack put cybersecurity firmly back on top of the political agenda and in part triggered President Obama’s new cybersecurity plans.

MPAA CEO Chris Dodd said that because of hackers certain companies have their “digital products exposed and available online for anyone to loot.”

“That’s why law enforcement must be given the resources they need to police these criminal activities,” Dodd noted at the time.

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