A man who uploaded the movie Deadpool to his Facebook page was arrested this week, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles announced.
Twenty-one-year-old Trevon Maurice Franklin of Fresno was arrested Tuesday morning based on a one-count federal indictment that alleges reproduction and distribution of copyrighted material, which is worth a maximum three years behind bars if he's found guilty, federal prosecutors said. It's a felony.
"As a result of the illegal upload, more than 5 million people were able to view the film copyrighted by the Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation," according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Feds indicate the upload was particularly damaging to the multibillion-dollar media company because the upload hit Facebook eight days after its release in February 2016, when moviegoers were still buying tickets to see it.
Interestingly, a spokesman for the studio said, "No comment from Fox on this one." We reached out to the ACLU of Southern California but were unable to reach anyone.
Corynne McSherry, legal director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said this via email: "While we don't know the facts in this case, we are troubled that criminal charges are being brought against people simply for uploading a movie, particularly if there is no allegation of commercial gain. Three years in prison for what the authorities reportedly describe as $2,500 in damages is excessive."
According to the indictment, Franklin allegedly uploaded the film between Feb. 20 and Feb. 22 of last year. It states that he "did willfully infringe the copyright" of the work "by the reproduction and distribution, including by electronic means" of the film.
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It's not clear how much economic damage was done to the studio. The U.S. Attorney's Office in L.A. put two of its Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section attorneys, Ryan White and Vicki Chou, on the case.
Franklin appeared in court in Fresno Tuesday but was not asked to enter a plea, U.S. Attorney's spokesman Thom Mrozek said via email.
*This story was edited at 2:28 p.m. Wednesday, June 14, 2017 to add a comment from the Electronic Frontier Foundation's legal director.