Man Sentenced To Year In Prison For Leaking So-So Wolverine Movie

The New York man who pleaded guilty to uploading a nearly finished work print of X-Men Origins: Wolverine to the internet a month before it hit theaters, has been sentenced to a year behind bars in federal prison for letting the world see how mediocre the movie was before they had to pay $10 to see it at the theater.

In addition to the prison term, the sentence includes one year of supervised release and numerous computer restrictions.

The judge noted that the man had a previous conviction for a similar crime and that he’d “been regularly uploading pirated movies for four or five years, and did not appear remorseful after charges were brought.”

Prosecutors argued that even though Fox was able to pull down the original file from the internet about one day after it first leaked, “by then, the damage was done and the film had proliferated like wildfire throughout the Internet, resulting in up to millions of infringements.”

And yet the film still managed to rake in $373 million worldwide, not including DVD, on-demand and cable sales.

“The federal prison sentence handed down in this case sends a strong message of deterrence to would-be Internet pirates,” said the United States Attorney who surely never used Napster or watched a bootleg DVD bought off the street. “The Justice Department will pursue and prosecute persons who seek to steal the intellectual property of this nation.”

‘Wolverine’ Pirate To Serve Year In Prison [ via]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

    And the director and producers didn’t get any time for turning Wolverine into a wishy washy emo?

  2. mbbbus says:

    A year. So we can logically expect that the Wall St. titans who fleeced us out of trillions will spend all eternity, prison (a la Superman 2?)

    • Extended-Warranty says:

      I was expecting this type of reply a lot sooner than being 2nd.

      Remember, it’s always the fault of big business.

      • mbbbus says:

        Perhaps you should reread my comment. That’s not at all what I said. However, I did imply that big businesses, while enjoying the rights of individual citizens, are almost never punished like them (e.g. prison time).

        • finbar says:

          That’s one of the more succinct rationalization for removing corporate personhood I have encountered. Human beings should have the full rights of human beings; invented entities should not.

        • partofme says:

          If by “..enjoying the rights of individual citizens..” you mean “..enjoying the political speech rights of assemblies of people..” then ok. If not, then why do we have to go over this every week?

      • Shaggy says:

        I’m not sure how this is an unfair comparison; how much money did this pirate make off of his creation? How many lives/bank accounts did he destroy? Did he plunge this country into an economic free-fall? So far, it looks like he’s going to do more time in prison than any of the people who almost wrecked this country’s economy.

      • sagodjur says:

        It’s not always the fault of big business, but their actions have greater repercussions than the actions of people with less money or power. It’s a matter of scale.

        I can upload a movie and show the world how much it sucks and maybe cost one company a few million in hypothetical earnings (not that they wouldn’t use Hollywood Accounting to make it look like it lost money anyway…).

        Wall Street can go crazy and help ruin the economy, costing millions of jobs and causing people to lose their homes.

    • TheUncleBob says:

      Only if we can also give jail time to all the idiots who took out loans they couldn’t afford to pay back, causing the entire economy to collapse when their loans went under.

      • rooben says:

        blame the victim much? Of course, everyone should be as smart and educated as you are, and if they are misled by a representative of a job-creator (who shoud be trusted to do the right thing instead of having those pesky regulations), that is their own damn fault.

        we shoud just go back to Buyer Beware, right? That should work out for all of us..

        Or we can realize that not all people have access to the same resources, and screwing all of them over creates problems like our current economic breakdown.

    • Saltpork says:

      Fat chance.

      At this point I think putting a bullet in their head would be more effective than trying to pursue legal actions against them.

    • Jawaka says:

      The problem is that the downloaded actually broke a law. Most people in Wall Street have absolutely no morals but don’t actually break the law and when they do I’m sure that they have better lawyers than this guy did.

  3. Coffee says:

    You didn’t pretend to be sorry, so I’m throwing the book at you.

    • Costner says:

      Me thinks the previous conviction and the fact he had done this numerous times in the past was probably what triggered this.

      Had it been a first offense I’d be calling foul, but considering the history here and the fact this guy just doesn’t seem to get it – a year seems about right, especially after you realize he will probably be out within 5 months due to a non-violent crime coupled with time served and good behavior.

      • kujospam says:

        I think it was because they didn’t show the director or actors starving because of all the downloads that caused them to go bankrupt. Oh wait. I bet even the camera man and lighting people make more then this guy. It’s hard to feel remorse when you didn’t hurt anyone. If people were actually getting hurt and losing their jobs over this kind of stuff I would think companies themselves would be making a bigger stink over it in the news. Now I’m not saying it is right what he did, but it’s like saying, do you feel remorse that you want 45 in a 35 zone? You had potential of hurting someone, but you really didn’t.

  4. Cat says:

    “The Justice Department will pursue and prosecute persons who seek to steal the intellectual property of this company.”

    FTFY. I doubt it would have been prosecuted at all if it was an American “flesh and blood” citizen’s intellectual property instead of a corporation’s.

    Also, The judge considers Wolverine to be “intellectual” property? LOL

  5. Bent Rooney says:

    He watched the movie before uploading it. Shouldn’t that be punishment enough?

  6. elangomatt says:

    I see, so I guess Consumerist thinks it is ok to upload movies illegally as long as it is a so-so (or worse) movie. Consumerist will sure be pissed if someone uploads the next Twilight movie a month before it opens in theaters though!!

    • sagodjur says:

      Um…really? Twilight…? That’s your not “so-so (or worse) movie” example?

      • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

        Sounds more like they’re saying Twilight was GOOD (it’s ok to upload bad movies, but we’ll be pissed if they uploaded a good one).

        I think that they’re crazy.

        • sagodjur says:

          Yeah, that’s what I was questioning.

          Unless they’re referring to movies with comedic value, in which case I would agree that Twilight beats out Wolverine by a landslide.

      • elangomatt says:

        Sorry was trying to make a joke with the Twilight comment. I was just trying to quickly pick out a movie that I wouldn’t be caught dead watching, but still inexplicably makes a ton and a half of money.

    • OutPastPluto says:

      The punishment should fit the crime and the amount of damage that was done.

      • ClemsonEE says:

        Please prove to me what the damage was that was done.

        • Costner says:

          There has to be a certain amount of assumption here… and it is nearly impossible to do which is why there is legislation outlining specific fines.

          Chances are a few million downloads occurred for this movie. Let’s just say there were 2,000,000 people who downloaded it worldwide. If only 5% of those people were to buy a ticket to the movie and/or buy a copy of it on DVD (or a digital download) it would be 100,000 sales. If they made $3 profit from each sale it would be $300,000 in losses directly attributed to this one guy.

          Do I know these numbers are even close? Not a chance. Maybe only 12 people would have watched the movie and the losses would be under $50. On the flip side, maybe the early reviewers of the film were so hard on it and many others who would have seen it in the theater decided to skip it and go see something else. In that case the total losses would be much more.

          Who really knows – but it seems logical to assume the studio was actually harmed by this action. Nobody can provide cold hard figures, but a reasonable person would agree there was most likely some harm.

        • megafly says:

          Because the public had uncontrolled access top the movie outside the context of the studios tightly controlled junket and review system, The public at large was made aware that this movie sucked BEFORE it’s release date. The studios rely on 24-48 hours of ignorance when a movie first releases to make their money. They want to get asses in seats before folks start talking in church, and in line at the grocery store, and on the KZEW 97.4 morning ZEW CREW about how bad the movie was. The only way around that model would be to make a good movie and too often those don’t make any money.

    • dolemite says:

      It’s not ok, but a year in prison for something akin to shoplifting a $5 bargain-bin movie from Walmart?

      • DariusC says:

        Agreed, a year in jail for making a copy of a copy? It’s not theft if you make a copy. Now, since it hurt the company to have it released early, I can see financial damages. But jail? That doesn’t help anyone, it hurts taxpayers. Even if the company couldn’t get the money from the guy, putting him in jail for it isn’t helping anyone. Put him to work and levy his wages if you must. Jail is a waste of time and money for everyone.

      • TheMansfieldMauler says:

        The judge noted that the man had a previous conviction for a similar crime and that he’d been regularly uploading pirated movies for four or five years

        Shoplifting something from the $5 bin once doesn’t deserve jail time.

        Shoplifting something from the $5 bin the 20th time does deserve jail time.

  7. El Sabor Asiatico says:

    How dare this criminal not show the proper remorse for uploading a blurry bootleg copy of a mediocre film to the Internet? The guy acts like he did something totally trivial and non-punishable, like selling billions of dollars of crappy mortgage-backed securities and throwing the country into a depression.

  8. Phil Keeps It Real [Consumerist] says:

    Wolverine ohhhh….Wolverine…how come your movie Stunk-O-rine’d ?

  9. BrownLeopard says:

    So the guy who touches a little kid gets 120 days in jail and this guy gets a year for uploading a movie?

    • Rachacha says:

      Sure – repeat offenders for DWI get their license revoked and continue to drive, kill someone and get less severe a punishment than someone who steals IP.

      I am not saying that either crime is correct, just that abusing a child and killing someone due to drunk driving should be punished more severely than someone who steals a movie.

      The damages that the movie owners suffered was purely monetary. Make him serve community service and garnish wages

      • damicatz says:

        The most heinous crimes in this country’s “justice” system are those that threaten the profits of the corporate oligarchy.

        Touching little kids doesn’t threaten the profit of a large corporation. Uploading a movie means that a corporate executive might only be able to get a Boeing 737 rather than a 747 for use as a private jet.

  10. smartypants503 says:

    (down on knees, arms flexed outward, head leaning back, facing sky)


  11. axolotl says:

    I picture the judge making a witty remark, banging his gavel, then walking away from the podium in slow motion as it explodes behind him.

  12. Traveller says:

    This isn’t about bankers and their alleged crimes (you can blame congress for watering down the law on that one). This is about someone who willfully violated a law with set and known consequences (anyone that doesn’t know pirating is wrong has been living under a rock). While additionally not being remorseful got the full punishment.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      I agree with you that piracy is wrong, but their “justification” and their response to it has been ridiculous. Piracy DOESN’T cause the profit loss they’re talking about, And their reactions of delaying netflix and other release types so people will buy more dvd’s is asinine. They keep shooting themselves in the foot.

      I would have thought that by now they’d have realized they aren’t changing anything. The fact that SOPA is even on the table shows how completely BLIND they are.

    • damicatz says:

      Pirating is boarding ships, stealing their cargo and murdering their crew. Please do not use
      “piracy” to describe “copyright infringement” as that is mere propaganda created by big media and the content industry to try and sway public opinion in their favor.

      As for breaking laws, unjust laws deserve to be broken. This country exists because our Founding Fathers decided that British law was unjust and decided to break it. When people follow the law and the government blindly, the end result inevitably leads to the establishment of a dictatorship.

      • ChuckECheese says:

        So where is my dictatorship already? Can we just get it over with?

      • Bsamm09 says:

        “This country exists because our Founding Fathers decided that British law was unjust and decided to break it. When people follow the law and the government blindly, the end result inevitably leads to the establishment of a dictatorship.”

        I agree with you but the founding fathers knew there would be repercussions from their actions (war, death etc) and acted anyway. This guy did too. If you are going to break the law for any reason, look at the worst punishment you could get and decide if breaking the law is worth that risk.

        Break the law and revolt against the British —> Possible death. Seems worth it to me.

        Break the law and seed a movie —> Year in prison (not sure of the actual max penalties but I will assume they are more). Not worth it to me.

  13. Nunov Yerbizness says:

    The guy got what he deserved. Not that predatory and ethically-challenged bankers don’t also deserve prison time, and yes, the long arm of the law seems quite a bit more active in defense of corporations than it is of individual rights and property. But the guy was dumb enough to get caught, and he did steal, and yes, he belongs in prison.

    • little stripes says:

      He belongs in prison for uploading a file to the internet? Really? Wow.

    • sagodjur says:

      “But the guy was dumb enough to get caught”

      Please cite the criminal law that states that being subjectively “dumb enough to get caught” is a punishable offense.

    • damicatz says:

      Not stealing :
      Dowling v. United States, 473 U.S. 207 (1985)
      The phonorecords in question were not “stolen, converted or taken by fraud” for purposes of [section] 2314. The section’s language clearly contemplates a physical identity between the items unlawfully obtained and those eventually transported, and hence some prior physical taking of the subject goods. Since the statutorily defined property rights of a copyright holder have a character distinct from the possessory interest of the owner of simple “goods, wares, [or] merchandise,” interference with copyright does not easily equate with theft, conversion, or fraud. The infringer of a copyright does not assume physical control over the copyright nor wholly deprive its owner of its use. Infringement implicates a more complex set of property interests than does run-of-the-mill theft, conversion, or fraud.

    • OutPastPluto says:

      It sounds like someone doesn’t fully appreciate the gravity of the situation here.

  14. chucklebuck says:

    Current Redskins receiver Donte Stallworth killed a guy while driving drunk and got 30 days in jail, of which he served 24.

    I actually don’t have a problem with this guy getting some kind of punishment for uploading movies to file sharing sites, but I can’t fathom 1) why it’s a jailable offense and 2) why uploading a movie gets you about 12 times more jail time than killing someone with a car while drunk.

    • Traveller says:

      Not sure how he only got 30 days, you would have to look at the details of that case, was he remorseful, did he make other amends (pay off victims, make public service statements etc.).

      Also it helps to have money and good lawyers. Personally we are way too soft on DUI. Mandatory time in jail for first offense IMO.

      • chucklebuck says:

        He got 8 years probation, 2 years house arrest, permanent loss of his Florida driver’s license and lots of community service hours too, so his total punishment was longer. But it still seems to me that the actual jail time should have been longer, and that there are really no circumstances under which a DUI manslaughter jail term should be shorter than a movie uploading jail term. It just boggles my mind.

      • pop top says:

        Oh, well if you’re sorry for getting drunk and killing someone, that’s ok.

    • jim says:

      The reason Donte Stallworth received a 30 day sentence is because the accident was the guy running across the streets fault. If Donte was not drunk there would be no crime at all. The guy ran across the street which was limited access and I believe on top of that he was drunk too.

      1-Why shouldn’t it be a jailable offense? He stole err what ever term pirate apolgoist are using these days, IP before they even had a chance to finish it. If say Interpol caught a guy that just stole Intels new chip design coming into Paris his butt would be in jail and this is no different. The only problem I have is the sentence should have been much longer.

      2-This is the hot coffee defense. A person hears the head line or even maybe the top of the fold of the story but never catches the important parts that are on 7B.

      • chucklebuck says:

        I dunno, “If Donte was not drunk there would be no crime at all” seems to me to say that the incident was not entirely the fault of the errant pedestrian. It may have been an accident, but that’s why it was involuntary manslaughter and not voluntary manslaughter or murder. Accidental or not, Stallworth’s negligence is part of the equation.

        And I still don’t see how, if you are found guilty of manslaughter or plead guilty to manslaughter because someone died when you hit them while driving drunk, you would ever get jail time significantly less than the jail time a guy who pirates/copyright infringes a movie gets. Even if you think the punishment for the copyright infringer should be greater than or equal to the punishment of the DUI vehicular manslaughterer, should the actual jail time disparity be so out of whack?

        I am not at all disagreeing with the people who think this guy should be punished, but with prison overcrowding being what it is, are we really making the best use of our resources and are we really handing out commensurate punishment by putting people like this in jail? House arrest, probation, prohibition from computer use, prohibition from going to movie theaters – there are lots of punishment options. But jail?

      • sagodjur says:

        The accurate term is still copyright infringement. Also, you can’t steal a design, only the chip itself. You can only steal physical objects that are both finite and exclusive in nature.

        I understand that you don’t think the usage matters as long as you paint the discussion of dirty pirates with a bad word, but I’ll let you think about why that’s silly while I go and drink a hamburger and eat a soft drink.

        • partofme says:

          Sure you can steal things that are non-physical or infinite or non-exclusive. You’re trying to appeal to definition, but this really depends on what definition you’re using. Take for example definition 2 on

          to appropriate (ideas, credit, words, etc.) without right or acknowledgment.

          I taught a programming course this semester. On a take-home exam, several students turned in code that was identical or nearly identical to one that was available on Rosetta Code (and was very different in nature to any of the methods we’d done in class). According to this dictionary definition, they stole the code… even though it’s nonphysical, infinite, and non-exclusive. The same thing can happen with chip designs.

  15. Oranges w/ Cheese says:


    • BrownLeopard says:

      Bubba: What you in fo’?

      Pirate: Uploading a movie to the internet a month before it came out in theaters.

      Bubba: Well. You sho’ got a purty mouth.

      Pirate: It was the new Wolverine.


  16. Firevine says:

    And the people that made the movie get away with it!? This is a miscarriage of justice!

  17. damicatz says:

    “Intellectual property” cannot be “stolen”. Even the much vaunted supreme court has said as much (Dowling v. United States, 473 U.S. 207 (1985)) :

    The phonorecords in question were not “stolen, converted or taken by fraud” for purposes of [section] 2314. The section’s language clearly contemplates a physical identity between the items unlawfully obtained and those eventually transported, and hence some prior physical taking of the subject goods. Since the statutorily defined property rights of a copyright holder have a character distinct from the possessory interest of the owner of simple “goods, wares, [or] merchandise,” interference with copyright does not easily equate with theft, conversion, or fraud. The infringer of a copyright does not assume physical control over the copyright nor wholly deprive its owner of its use. Infringement implicates a more complex set of property interests than does run-of-the-mill theft, conversion, or fraud.


    I would expect a US Attorney to know this. Then again, the US attorneys are nothing but tools of the corporofascist state, working to serve corporate interests. If this had been an indie movie that was “stolen”, do you think the US Attorney would have been so interested in prosecuting it?

    In addition, “copyright infringement” is not the same thing as piracy. Pirates are people that board ships at sea, steal their cargo and murder their crews. Associating mere “copyright infringement” with acts of grand theft and murder is an invention of big media and is nothing but propaganda and weasel words designed to influence the unsuspecting public.

    I see no actual damages here. It wasn’t a finished production, the movie obviously sold well and there is no demonstration here that they lost any sales due to the bootleg release. But then, when you can spend hundreds of millions of dollars bribing politicians, who actually needs to meet burden of proof? Just stack the jury with idiots during voir dire and pay off enough politicians to get them on your side.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      “I see no actual damages here.”

      Really? You don’t think that it’s reasonable to believe that there’s at least one person out there who downloaded the movie, who would otherwise have either bought a ticket, bought the DVD, rented the DVD, rented it on iTunes, etc?

      Certainly, it’s unreasonable to say “it was downloaded 1 million times, each DVD costs $15, so there was $15 million in revenue lost.” It’s just as unreasonable to say there was zero revenue lost.

      • damicatz says:

        Yeah, I do think it’s impossible to show actual damages. For one thing, it was UNFINISHED. As in, not even the same product as what was in theaters.

        Two is that I do not see how a preponderance of the evidence can be shown to demonstrate that there were ACTUAL (as in ACTUAL, not THEORETICAL) losses.

        No, the guy’s crime wasn’t uploading a movie. It was crossing the corporate oligarchy. You and I are nothing but plebeians, subservient to the corporofascists and they occasionally have to make an example of someone in order to remind the plebs of their place.

        • Bsamm09 says:

          Why are damages necessary? I assume this was criminal court since he is going to jail and not civil court where damages would be necessary.

        • NeverLetMeDown says:

          So what if it was unfinished? If it caused people to not go to the movie or buy it, the effect is the same.

          As for there not being actual damages, if I deflate the tires to your car, so you can’t make it to a job interview, but then reflate them later (after the employer has decided not to hire you because you didn’t show up), you think I haven’t caused you any damage? Really? Wow.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Just because you don’t agree with the added definition or pirate in modern culture doesn’t make it not so.

    • partofme says:

      Ok, so you’ve presented a case for the idea that copyright infringement doesn’t fit neatly into a particular section of theft law. How does that imply that it doesn’t fit into a more general definition of stealing? Basically, that decision said, “We aren’t going to handle it this way… we’re going to handle it this other way.” It can still be wrong. It can still be stealing. We just handle it with a “more complex set of property interests”. Integration in the complex plane doesn’t fit into the calculus book’s section on integration over the real line… we have a more complex (pun intended) set of mathematical interests. But it’s still integration.

  18. dolemite says:

    Just a taste of what is go come from our corporate overlord ruled Congress. Just wait until people get charged with felonies for having snippets of copyrighted work in their youtube videos.

    • Greg Ohio says:

      Our corporate overlords want to censor the internet without due process. This guy, however, was tried and found guilty in a court of law.

  19. Talmonis says:

    One more victim in the class war. Or “lets make an example of the peasants”.

  20. spf1971 says:

    Just because everyone wants to say what is and isn’t “piracy”

    pi·ra·cy   [pahy-ruh-see] Show IPA
    noun, plural -cies.
    practice of a pirate; robbery or illegal violence at sea.
    the unauthorized reproduction or use of a copyrighted book, recording, television program, patented invention, trademarked product, etc.: The record industry is beset with piracy.
    Also called stream capture. Geology . diversion of the upper part of one stream by the headward growth of another.

  21. kaptainkk says:

    The Internet is full of pirated movies and music, why should this guy take the hit because he was the one that uploaded the movie? What about the millions of others that have done the same thing? This guy has become a chattel of the system.

    • elangomatt says:

      That’s the way it goes. I hope you think that Martha Stewart shouldn’t have been punished either because insider trading is illegal, but since everyone does it, Martha shouldn’t have been punished.

  22. Corinthos says:

    i wish they would have put the workprint on the bluray. I found it more entertaining than I did the movie. I loved still seeing the wires on the actors during the fight scenes and the hand drawn helicopter sequence.
    I did end up buying the bluray but I have yet to watch it. I haven’t seen anything but the workprint.

  23. exscind says:

    I think everyone is missing the bigger story here:

    ” The Justice Department will pursue and prosecute persons who seek to steal the intellectual PROPERTY OF THIS NATION.”

    Either the US government just declared ownership of all intellectual property, or let slip that Wolverine was a secret government project!

  24. ARVash says:

    No a prison sentence like that for piracy doesn’t deter, it makes martyrs. There is such a thing as unjust punishment.

  25. shthar says:

    So what do the people who actually made the movie get?

    20 to life?

  26. RiverStyX says:

    No, it doesn’t send a “Strong message of deterrence” any more then the death penalty stops murder. But keep telling yourself that.

    Anyway, Gilberto wasn’t the original source of the leak, he just posted a copy on like megaupload or something and they picked him as the one to make an example out of.