Findlaw has reported that Columbia Pictures and Warner Bros filed lawsuits against Carmine Caridi, an actor and longtime member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, for allegedly leaking "screener" copies of movies that were then reproduced and distributed on the internet. Caridi, 70, appeared in "The Godfather: Part II" and "NYPD Blue". He told investigators he sent VHS copies of about 60 movies he received each year to a friend, Russell Sprague, who used a software program to convert the VHS tape into DVD format and then sent the original tapes back to Caridi. Investigators said a search of Caridi's Hollywood apartment turned up 36 original Academy screener tapes, including "The Last Samurai," "In America," "Shattered Glass" and "Mona Lisa Smile". Warner Bros seek damages of at least $150,000 for each infringing use of its releases "The Last Samurai" and "Mystic River." Columbia wants to elect between actual damages and $150,000 for each infringing use of "Something's Gotta Give" and "Big Fish". Caridi, who said he received no money for the films, allegedly told investigators he believed Sprague was a film buff and merely wished to watch them. Sprague was arrested and charged with criminal copyright infringement last week. Caridi has not been charged.

The IPKat notes that, under UK copyright law, sending a VHS copy of a film to someone else who turns it into a DVD is not of itself a civil copyright infringement. However, infringement is committed where a person doesn’t just supply the tape but authorises any subsequent infringing acts done by others: see the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, s. 16(2).

More on screener tapes here and here
Convert your VHS tapes to DVDs here, here and here
Mona Lisa smile here, here and here
The Last Samurai here; the First Samurai here; buy your Samurai shirt here

CARIDI BEGINS AT HOME CARIDI BEGINS AT HOME Reviewed by Jeremy on Friday, January 30, 2004 Rating: 5

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