Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

NYPD Blue actor Carmine Caridi has been fined a total of £309,600 for his involvement in the illegal copying of two Oscar-nominated films that he was due to judge as a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

Screeners for the films, The Last Samurai and Mystic River, were sent to Caridi in the run up to last year's Oscars in order that he might consider his vote.

Like all members of the Academy, 70-year old Caridi signed an agreement promising not to circulate the films. But, according to reports, he breached this agreement by passing the films onto a friend, Russell Sprague from Illinois, who copied the films and distributed them over the internet.

The pair were caught when a watermark on the copied films was traced back to Caridi's screener.

In March, Sprague pled guilty to breaching the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, which restricts the circumvention of copy-protection systems. He is due to be sentenced shortly.

Caridi, on the other hand, faced a civil suit from Warner Bros, to which he did not respond. Accordingly, on 17th November, Judge Stephen Wilson of the Los Angeles District Court awarded a default judgment in favour of Warner Bros amounting to $150,000 for each film and $9,000 in costs.

"We hope that the court's award against Mr. Caridi as well as the criminal sentence to be handed down against Sprague, whose actions were equally destructive, will prove a deterrent against the stealing of intellectual property," said Warner's spokesman Darcy Antonellis.

Caridi was thrown out of the Academy in February this year, according to reports.

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