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Copyright Cases - U.S. v. Salisbury (N.D. Cal.) (Operation Site Down; Operation Copycat)

August 4, 2005

Department Of Justice
U.S. Attorney
Northern District of California
11th Floor, Federal Building
450 Golden Gate Avenue, Box 36055
San Francisco, California 94102
(415) 436-7200
FAX:(415) 436-7234

Defendant Indicted for Camcording Films in Movie Theaters and for Distributing the Films on Computer Networks First Prosecution Under Newly-Enacted Family Entertainment Copyright Act

SAN JOSE - The United States Attorney for the Northern District of California announced that Curtis Salisbury, 19, of St. Charles, Missouri, was charged in a five-count indictment alleging that he used a camcorder in movie theaters to copy recent theatrical releases, then uploaded the copies to a computer network for distribution. The prosecution against Mr. Salisbury is part of continuing investigation known locally as Operation Copycat, which to date has resulted in the indictments of five individuals in the Northern District of California and the execution of more than 40 searches nationwide. Operation Copycat is the local and largest part of the coordinated international law enforcement action known as Operation Site Down, which is targeting online piracy.

Yesterday's indictment alleges that Mr. Salisbury used an audiovisual recording device to make copies of the movies "The Perfect Man" on June 21, 2005, and "Bewitched" on June 28, 2005. Copies of these films were then distributed on a computer network through "warez" sites, or sites offering pirated movies, games and software. The indictment charges conspiracy; two counts of copyright infringement by distributing a copyrighted work on a computer network; and two counts of unauthorized recording of motion pictures in a motion picture exhibition facility. The indictment includes a criminal forfeiture and destruction allegation to forfeit and destroy recording equipment and unauthorized copies.

The two counts addressing camcording activities allege violations of provisions of the "Family Entertainment and Copyright Act of 2005," which the President signed into law on April 27, 2005. One part of that statute, known as the ART Act ("Artists' Rights and Theft Prevention Act of 2005"), criminalizes the use of recording equipment to make copies of movies in movie theaters. The statute also prohibits the infringement of a work being prepared for commercial distribution by making it available on a computer network accessible to members of the public, where the individual knew or should have known the work was intended for commercial distribution. The indictment represents the first use of those provisions in the recently enacted statute by federal prosecutors.

In addition to allegedly camcording and uploading the movies "The Perfect Man" and "Bewitched" to the warez server, the indictment also alleges that Mr. Salisbury illegally downloaded the movie "Madagascar," and the software programs "Sony Sound Forge V8.0," Adobe "Premier Pro V7.0," and Adobe "Premier Pro V1.5 Proper." According to the indictment, Mr. Salisbury communicated with others concerning the tools and processes of removing identifying features on a film which revealed the originating theater of a particular film. Additionally, he allegedly discussed receiving payment for the films that he would provide, indicating that he would like to be paid by money order at a post office box when the film is ready for release.

Defendant Salisbury is scheduled to be appear before United States Magistrate Judge Patricia V. Trumbull in San Jose on August 18, 2005 at 1:30 p.m. United States Attorney Kevin V. Ryan stated: "Camcording movies in theaters for online distribution is a crime. This case represents the first prosecution under the Family Entertainment Copyright Act, and demonstrates that the U.S. Attorney's Office and its CHIP Unit will aggressively employ the tools provided by Congress and the President to combat the theft of intellectual property."

The maximum statutory penalty for each count in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 (conspiracy), and 17 U.S.C. § 506(a)(1)(C), 18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 2319(d)(2) (copyright infringement by distributing a copyrighted work on a computer network, and aiding and abetting) is five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater, a three year term of supervised release, and a $100 mandatory special assessment. The maximum statutory penalty for violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2, 2319B(a)(1) (unauthorized recording of motion pictures in a motion picture exhibition facility, and aiding and abetting) is three years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the transaction, whichever is greater, a two year term of supervised release, and a $100 mandatory special assessment. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

An indictment simply contains allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, Mr. Salisbury must be presumed innocent unless and until convicted.

The investigation was overseen by the Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property (CHIP) Unit of the United States Attorney's Office. Mark L. Krotoski is the Assistant U.S. Attorney from the CHIP Unit prosecuting the case.

This prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI.

Further Information:

More information on Operation Copycat may be found at: http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/can/press/html/2005_07_14_copycat_indictment.html.

A copy of this press release and related court filings may be found on the U.S. Attorney's Office website at www.usdoj.gov/usao/can.

Electronic court filings and further procedural and docket information are available at https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/ (click on the link for "to retrieve documents from the court").

Judge's calendars with schedules for upcoming court hearings can be viewed on the court's website at http://www.cand.uscourts.gov/ All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney's Office should be directed to Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher P. Sonderby, Chief of the CHIP Unit, at (408) 535-5037, or Luke Macaulay at (415) 436-6757 or by email at Luke.Macaulay3@usdoj.gov


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