The FBI filed a criminal complaint Friday against a Chicago man for allegedly uploading four episodes of the hit series “24” to LiveDigital.com, a video hosting site, before their primetime broadcast. If convicted on a felony count, Jorge Romero, 24, could face up to three years in prison.
While the Internet is awash in pirated video content, it is rare for programs to find their way online before airdate. But eight days before the “24” TV premiere, Romero found the original file on a file-sharing service through Mininova.org, a bit torrent tracking site, according to the FBI affidavit.
Romero allegedly downloaded them from an illegal file-sharing service and subsequently uploaded them to LiveDigital, and also posted Web links to the pirated episodes on Digg.com.
In other words Romero is a somewhat useful target because he not only uploaded the episodes to a video sharing site but he aggressively promoted them and appears to have maintained his own site, possibly with Google AdSense, which would allow prosecutors to attach profit motive to his actions.
Without the profit motive though, there’s a lot less to really charge Romero with. Since all Romero did was reupload some files. He can be accused of mishandling copyrighted materials but not of stealing it or doing anything besides distributing what had already been floating around. Of course that’s not a problem when industry lawyers are involved and bringing in the FBI means this can be taken to a Federal Prosecutor and those guys don’t tend to lose case. Especially when there’s big corporate money riding on them.
Still a 3 Year Jail sentence seems somewhat unlikely but is an attempt to intimidate internet users and Romero himself into making a plea bargain.