Felony charges are becoming an Oscar tradition right up there with Botox injections and borrowed Harry Winston jewels.
The Department of Justice said Thursday that it has charged Salvador Nunez Jr., a 27-year-old from Los Angeles, with allegedly uploading an Oscar-nominated film to the Web and making it widely available online. Nunez, who is charged with copyright infringement and faces a maximum of three years in prison if convicted, got ahold of the Paramount Pictures' animated film Flushed Away through his sister, who had received a review copy, known as a "screener," according to the DOJ.
(Nunez's sister received the film, among others, because she is a member of the International Animated Film Society.)
The charge comes just days before the broadcast of the 79th annual Academy Awards Sunday and follows a similar episode last year. In 2006, a 25-year-old California man was charged with uploading a copy of the Oscar-nominated Walk the Line.
According to the complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Nunez posted Flushed Away online on December 23, and another film, Warner Brothers' Happy Feet, roughly two weeks later. Investigators from the Motion Picture Association of America found the copies online and ran forensic tests on the digital watermarks to find that they were originally sent in DVD format to Nunez's sister, according to the DOJ.
Maybe next year these "screener" dragnets will fade back into a more long-held Oscar tradition: screamers on the red carpet.