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Man accused of pirating Oscar screener

Digital watermark revealed Academy's copy of ‘Walk the Line’

A man accused of uploading a copy of the film “Walk the Line” that was intended for an Academy Award voter has been charged with copyright infringement.

Luis Ochoa, 25, of Corona, faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine if convicted. He is scheduled to appear in federal court on March 28.

Prosecutors claim Ochoa said in an Internet chat room that he wanted to put online a special copy of the Johnny Cash biopic, which was supplied in advance to Oscar voters. It is unclear how he allegedly obtained the film.

A chat room participant contacted the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which set up a fake movie-swapping Web site where Ochoa uploaded the film on Dec. 21, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Hoffstadt said.

The film was taken from the mail before it reached its intended recipient, he said. A digital watermark identified it as an Academy screener film.

There is no phone listing for Ochoa in Corona, and he could not immediately be located for comment.

In 2003, the Motion Picture Association of America, which represents studios, banned the distribution of screener copies over concerns about bootlegging, but partly lifted the ban after complaints from filmmakers, producers and independent production companies.

An Illinois man was convicted in 2004 of illegally copying and distributing scores of Oscar screeners. Russell William Sprague died in his jail cell while awaiting sentencing in Los Angeles.