The second person to be arrested for pirating a leaked Oscar screener pleaded guilty to criminal copyright infringement Monday, as authorities revealed that the illegal copy of “Big Fish” he was selling was not leaked by an Academy member.
According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Johnson, authorities concluded that actress Hanna Hertelendy never received her copy of “Big Fish,” which was most likely stolen from her mailbox.
Defendant William Philputt previously told Daily Variety that he bought his copy of “Big Fish” in L.A.’s Chinatown and had never met Hertelendy. He was attempting to sell the screener online when he was identified by anti-piracy investigators from Sony and arrested by the FBI.
At the time of his arrest, authorities traced the movie back to Hertelendy and speculated that she had leaked her screener.
However, charges relating to pirating “Big Fish” weren’t included in Philputt’s plea. Instead he admitted to selling on eBay duplicated DVDs of “Sex in the City” taken from DirecTV, pirated via an illegal “unlooper.”
Johnson said authorities focused on “Sex and the City” because it was already out on DVD and its value could be easily evaluated, necessary for sentencing.
Along with his plea, 31-year-old Philputt, who has held various music and movie industry jobs, agreed to take part in an outreach program speaking to elementary and middle school students about the effects of piracy.
Due to that agreement and his lack of a criminal record, Johnson said Philputt is unlikely to face the maximum penalty of five years in prison when he is sentenced in July.
Around the same time, Russell Sprague, who recently pleaded guilty to pirating copies of ousted Academy member Carmini Caridi’s screeners for several years, is expected to face the toughest sentence ever for digital piracy.