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Eight People Charged With 'Star Wars' Piracy

They're accused of taking Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith from a post-production facility and posting it to the Internet.

In a crackdown on piracy, eight people were charged Tuesday in a Los Angeles court with taking a copy of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith from a undisclosed post-production facility and sharing it with others, one of whom put the movie on the Internet the day before it debuted worldwide.

Marc D. Hoaglin, 36, of Huntington Beach, Calif., was charged with getting a copy of the movie from De Sagun Dimaano, 33, of Los Angeles, and then uploading the movie onto the Internet on May 18, says Brian M. Hoffstadt, assistant United States attorney at the Los Angeles court.

Hoaglin is charged with one count of violating the recently enacted Family Entertainment Copyright Act. Hoaglin, if convicted, could be sentenced up to three years in federal prison.

According to court documents filed this morning in United States District Court in Los Angeles, Albert Valente, 28, of Lakewood, Calif., took a copy of the movie from the post-production facility where he worked and loaned it to Jessie I. Lumada, 28, of Long Beach, Calif. Lumada gave the movie to Ramon G. Valdez, 30, of Long Beach, Calif., who shared it with Michael J. Fousse, 42, of Monrovia, Calif.; Dwight Wayne Sityar, 27, of La Crescenta, Calif.; and Stephani Reiko Gima, 25, of Los Angeles, all of whom worked with Valdez at a Los Angeles cable company.

Valente agreed to plead guilty of willfully infringing on copyright laws by distributing his copy of the movie. Lumada, Valdez, Fousse, Sityar, Gima, and Dimaano are charged with willfully infringing a copyright by distributing or reproducing copies of the film. The seven defendants are charged with misdemeanors that carry up to one year in federal prison. All eight defendants have been summoned to appear in federal court in Los Angeles next month.

In two unrelated cases, two others were charged with illegally distributing Oscar screenings of unreleased movies. Ronald Redding, 37, of Linthicum Heights, Md., was charged this morning with giving his copy of Million Dollar Baby to a friend, although the movie had been provided to him solely to vote in the Academy Awards. The information charges Redding, who has agreed to plead guilty, with a misdemeanor of willfully infringing a copyright by distributing the film.

Eric Wright, 43, of Bellflower, Calif., pleaded guilty yesterday to a single count of trafficking in counterfeit DVD labels attached to copyrighted movies. Appearing before United States District Judge Audrey B. Collins, Wright admitted making unauthorized copies of The Incredibles and Friday Night Lights, affixing counterfeit labels to those copies, and selling the DVDs to others. Wright, who faces up to five years in federal prison, is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 12.

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