Oscar movies pirate arrested by FBI

The man who allegedly supplied preview tapes of Oscar films, as reported by I.T Vibe last week, has been arrested by the FBI.

Russell Sprague was found to be in possession of hundreds of screener tapes of films such as "The Last Samurai" and "Somethings Gotta Give", which are made for the purpose of Academy member voting for the Oscars.

The FBI said the films could be traced back to an Academy member called Carmine Caridi. Caridi is alleged to have sent VHS copies of films to Sprague as he thought they would be watched for his own enjoyment and would not be copied or passed on.

Unknown to Caridi, Sprague would then convert the VHS tape into DVD format before returning the original tape.

The FBI have not charged Caridi at present, but a spokesperson said further arrests could be a possibility, reports &to=http://www.itvibe.com' target=_blank>ITVIBE.com

Russell Sprague, a one-time electrician from Homewood, Illinois, was charged with two counts of violating copyright laws and with illegally obtaining satellite television signals.

Sprague, 51, was freed pending a Monday hearing at which he must post a $25,000 bond to stay out of jail.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Juliet Sorensen said authorities would seek to try Sprague in California on the charges, which each carry three- to five-year maximum prison sentences and up to $500,000 in fines. In late September, major studios sought to stem bootlegging by halting a 5-year-old practice of mailing out screeners. Hollywood marketers believe screeners sent to Academy voters can help films win or be nominated for awards, which in turn can boost a movie's box office, video, DVD, and television revenues, informs &to=http://www.forbes.com' target=_blank>Forbes

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