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Violating copyright law can have severe consequences

Those who sink millions of dollars into creating a motion picture hope they will make some profit. A few fortunate filmmakers know their high-budget projects will be blockbusters, grossing many millions of dollars, especially if they are parts of popular franchises. Copyright law protects the filmmakers’ rights to limit access to the movies only to those who are willing to pay the price of a ticket. In New York and elsewhere, anyone who violates that right can face serious penalties.

A man in another state is facing jail time after downloading a movie from a notorious pirating website, then uploading the movie to his own Facebook page. The 20-year-old posted “Deadpool” to his Facebook page just a few days after its highly-anticipated theater release. The post quickly went viral, receiving six million views. The man’s friends posted warnings that he was taking a risk and may end up in trouble with the FBI, but the man’s responses seemed to taunt authorities.

Because of the attention the post gained, the movie company, Twentieth Century Fox, soon learned of the viral piracy of its film and contacted the FBI. The man was arrested and charged with felony copyright infringement, which carries a three-year prison sentence. In a plea deal, the man admitted to a misdemeanor, but the prosecution wants him to serve the maximum, which is six months followed by a year of supervision.

Tough sentences for violations of copyright law act as a deterrent for others who may be tempted to pirate movies or music to avoid paying for them. Motion pictures and sound recordings are not cheap to produce, and those who sink their finances into creating these have a right to protect their investments. While the laws strive to protect creators of works of art, many in New York find it helpful to seek the assistance of an attorney when they feel someone has infringed on their creative rights.