A 36-year-old man whose booming bootleg film operations earned him the nickname the “Prince of Piracy” was sentenced last week to seven years in federal prison for taping copyrighted films in theaters and making them available to the public, among other crimes, LATimes.com reports.
Johnny Ray Gasca was hit with the sentence in Los Angeles, Calif., by U.S. District Judge Dean D. Pregerson on Friday, and he is the first person to face federal charges in the United States for using a camcorder inside a movie theater to illegally capture unreleased films, according to LATimes.com.
A year and a half ago, Gasca was found guilty of three misdemeanor charges for his part in taping three films in 2002 and 2003, and he was also found guilty on four related felony charges including witness retaliation, interstate communication of a threat, possession of fake identification and fleeing his lawyer’s custody, LATimes.com reports.
Elena Duarte, who heads up the U.S. attorney’s office cyber and intellectual crime unit, said, “The prosecution, conviction and substantial sentence imposed on Mr. Gasca today show the seriousness of his offenses and the fact that we take copyright infringement as a very serious crime,” according to LATimes.com.
Gasca, who has already served more than two years of combined time, was indicted for criminal copyright violations in the spring of 2003, and he fled in January 2004 just before his trial was slated to begin, LATimes.com reports. When he was apprehended in April 2005 in Florida, equipment for recording, as well as cameras and DVDs, were discovered with him, according to LATimes.com.
The Motion Picture Association of America estimates film piracy to cost the industry some $3.5 billion a year, LATimes.com reports.
Gasca’s operations set him apart from the majority of film pirates because of the sophistication of his recording equipment, which enabled him to produce relatively high-quality movie reproductions on DVD and other digital mediums, according to LATimes.com. Said equipment included a remote zoom camera lens, monitoring devices, and a belt with attached camera and infrared sound receiver, LATimes.com reports.
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