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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 January 2006, 15:18 GMT
Seven admit copying Star Wars DVD
Revenge of the Sith
Revenge of the Sith took $848.5m (474.6m) at the global box office
Seven Star Wars fans have admitted copying Revenge of the Sith a week before its cinema release.

They admitted piracy charges after copying and passing a DVD copy of the movie among them last May.

The six US men and one woman also pleaded guilty to criminal conduct in allowing an eighth person to obtain the film and upload it onto the internet.

They each face a maximum penalty of a $100,000 (56,000) fine and one year in jail when sentenced on 12 April.

Copyright law

Prosecutors said 28-year-old Albert Valente took a copy of George Lucas's final Star Wars movie from a post-production facility in Los Angeles last May.

It was then passed to Jessie Lumada, 28, Ramon Valdez, 30, Michael Fousse, 42, Dwight Wayne Sityar, 27, Stephani Gima, 25, and Joel De Sagun Dimaano, 33. All seven are from Los Angeles County.

Mr Dimaano then passed a copy to work colleague Marc Hoaglin, 28, from Huntington Beach, who last month admitted putting a copy on the internet.

New US laws make uploading a film before its DVD release a federal crime. Mr Hoaglin is due to be sentenced in March.

Hollywood studios said movie piracy cost the film industry $3.5bn (1.95bn) per year.

"We are glad to see the Star Wars thieves brought to justice," the Motion Picture Association of America said in a statement.

"Stealing copyrights is a serious problem, and the theft and illegal distribution of Revenge of the Sith was a glaring example of how the actions of dishonest people can cheat the movie-watching experience."

Revenge of the Sith went on to take $848.5m (474.6m) at the global box office.

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