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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 February, 2004, 08:53 GMT
Oscars expel voter over 'piracy'
Mystic River
Mystic River is among the movies allegedly pirated
Academy Awards bosses have kicked out a member for the first time in history after copies of confidential preview videos ended up on the internet.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences expelled him after they say he violated an agreement not to allow "screener" films to be distributed.

It comes after actor Carmine Caridi admitted sending videos to a friend who was charged with copyright violation.

The Oscars have cracked down on preview tapes because of fears over piracy.

The Academy asked all members to sign an agreement this year, pledging to protect their DVDs and tapes.

We had hoped that this situation would not arise
Frank Pierson
Academy president
Videos are sent to Academy members so they can vote for their favourites before the Oscars, which are being held at the end of February.

The Last Samurai, starring Tom Cruise, and Jack Nicholson's Something's Gotta Give and thriller Mystic River were among the movies that appeared on the internet.

"We had hoped that this situation would not arise," Academy president Frank Pierson said after Academy governors voted for the expulsion.

The organisation had a duty to both movie distribution companies and its other members, he said.

It has to "live up to our part of the bargain and to enforce our commitment to safeguard the video tapes sent to us", he added.

Charges

The expelled member was widely reported to be Caridi - who appeared in films like The Godfather Parts II and III - although the Academy would not officially name him.

FBI officials have said Caridi has admitted to sending videos to Russell Sprague, 51, from Homewood, Illinois.

Caridi's lawyer has said the actor "had no idea anyone else would be seeing" the films he sent Sprague.

Mr Sprague has been charged with two counts of violating copyright laws.


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