Movie Piracy Crimes Cost Millions

Many movie viewers may remember the government warning at the beginning of a film on DVD or even VHS that read, “piracy is not a victimless crime.” This warning has jumped off of the screens in our living room and taken shape in a recent charge against three men who pirated movies and television shows before their scheduled release dates.

Illegal Shows Coming to a Theater Near You

The suspects were charged with copyright infringement conspiracy for leaking almost every movie that was released by a major production studio and various television shows. They were able to circumvent copyright protection by obtaining DVDs and Blu-ray discs from distributors in New York and New Jersey and lied about why they needed the discs before their release date.

The suspects were allegedly part of a piracy outfit called “Sparks Group” which spans multiple countries. In addition to obtaining physical discs for distribution, the fraudsters are also accused of using software to distribute movies and television shows online. The Sparks Group has a network of servers worldwide that are used to share copyrighted material for their own uses. Authorities said that group members, as well as the three suspects, have been distributing movies and television shows illegally for over a decade.

Will There Be a Sequel?

After hearing about the arrests, many other piracy sites and their members went off the grid to avoid being caught. However, law enforcement in 18 countries has helped to shut down sharing servers that Sparks Group utilizes. Copyright infringements have a maximum consequence of five years in prison and while this was filed against the suspects, one man was also charged with wire fraud, which has a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

Piracy, in general, has increased during the pandemic as more people are staying at home. A recent report from Muso found a 40 percent jump in traffic on piracy sites in the United States and the United Kingdom after stay-at-home orders were issued in the spring. There is a demand for entertainment, and while consumers may not feel the effects personally, the film and television industry does.

Protecting Your Cinematic Masterpiece

Directors, producers, sound mixers, and of course, actors work months on each season of a television show and up to many years on a movie. This particular act of piracy cost major production studios tens of millions of dollars. This not only hurts the revenue that the employees would make from the film but may decrease profits from a theater showing if people have already seen it from their own homes.

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