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  Home . Content Library . News Items . Inside man found guilty of theft and copyright charges

Inside man found guilty of theft and copyright charges


On 12 June an Auckland man was found guilty of pirating the New Zealand made hit movie "Sione's Wedding".

"Sione's Wedding" Producer and Chief Executive of South Pacific Pictures, John Barnett said, "We're very happy that we have found the originating source of the theft and illegal distribution of "Sione's Wedding", and the judge's summing up supported our own suppositions."

Tony Eaton, Executive Director of the New Zealand Federation Against Copyright Theft (NZFACT) said, "New Zealanders have worked hard to build a film business that has produced some of the world's best loved films, and we are thankful that the courts have taken seriously any threat to our legitimate creative industry.

Barnett estimates that the pirated copies cost $300,000 in lost box office returns to the company and a further $200,000 in DVD sales.

The Auckland man, who was an employee of the post production house Digital Post Limited, was found guilty under the Crimes Act of two theft charges relating to the theft of a blank DVD disc and a "submaster" copy that contained the hit movie "Sione's Wedding". The man was also convicted under the Copyright Act of the distribution of the submaster.

On 27 February 2006, prior to the release of "Sione's Wedding" in New Zealand cinemas, a coutnerfeit copy of the movie was found in general circulation, and was handed over to South Pacific Pictures. Police andinvestigators from South Pacific Pictures, with support from NZFACT, subsequently conducted an inquiry that resulted in the man being charged. He is due to be sentenced on 18 July 2007.

Penalties for copyright offences carry a maximum five years imprisonment and/or up to $150,000 per offence.

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