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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 November, 2004, 10:16 GMT
US actor fined over Oscars piracy
Oscar statuettes
Preview films are sent to more than 6,000 Academy voters
Actor Carmine Caridi has been fined $300,000 (160,000) after copies of new movies he was sent as an Oscars voter ended up on the internet.

Mr Caridi, 70, who had small parts in two Godfather films, was sued for sending videos of The Last Samurai and Mystic River to another man.

Mr Caridi said he thought Russell Sprague was just a film buff - but in fact he put them online to download.

The case led to a crackdown on sending pre-release films to Oscars voters.

Copyright infringement

Movie studios send preview copies of their new films to members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in the hope of getting enough votes for an Oscar nomination.

Authorities said Mr Caridi has admitted sending VHS tapes of about 60 movies to Mr Sprague, 51, from Illinois.

Mr Sprague has pleaded guilty to one count of copyright infringement and is waiting to be sentenced.

Mr Caridi's fine of $150,000 (80,000) each for The Last Samurai and Mystic River, imposed by the US District Court in Los Angeles, relates to a lawsuit filed by Warner Bros.

Another case filed by Columbia Pictures is pending.



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