About a month before its 2009 theatrical release, Gilberto Sanchez uploaded a bootleg copy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine to popular download site Megaupload. The industry was in a tizzy -- how would this affect sales?
The film went on to gross $373 million worldwide, but Fox still vowed to prosecute the Wolverine pirate to the fullest. Sanchez ended up pleading guilty in March, and has now been sentenced.
He will serve 1 year in a federal prison and 1 year of supervised release during which his computer use will be restricted.
During sentencing, U.S. District Judge Margaret M. Morrow called the crime "very serious," reports The Wrap. Prosecutors had asked for a harsh sentence, citing a prior conviction and a history of illegal uploads.
They also stressed the fact that Wolverine had been uploaded just a month before its theatrical release.
There have been at least two similar crimes in the past decade and both defendants received lesser sentences. In 2003, a man uploaded The Hulk just before its release. He was fined and put on 3 years of probation. In 2009, a man was sentenced to 6 months for uploading The Love Guru a month before its release.
Why were all 3 defendants treated differently? Gilberto Sanchez had a prior conviction, but that doesn't explain the disparity between the other sentences. It also doesn't explain why Sanchez will spend 1 year in jail while the Hulk uploader spent none.
What do these disparities show? Are judges starting to take online piracy more seriously? Are prosecutors starting to buy into the MPAA hype? Or are more clear sentencing guidelines needed?
- 'X-Men: Wolverine' Pirate Sentenced to Year in Federal Prison (Hollywood Reporter)
- Megaupload Sues Universal Over "The Mega Song" (FindLaw's Technologist)
- SOPA Copyright Bill Hearing Suggests Uphill Battle for Critics (FindLaw's Technologist)