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6/4/2007
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Man Charged With Leaking Season Premiere Of 24 Online

A Chicago man, if convicted, could face three years in federal prison for posting the first four episodes of this season's 24 online before they aired on Fox.

A Chicago man is being charged with leaking the season premiere and three other episodes of the TV show 24 by uploading it onto a Web site.

Jorge Romero, 24, is accused of uploading copyrighted material to a publicly accessible computer network knowing the work was intended for commercial distribution. If convicted, he could face three years in federal prison.

The criminal complaint contends that Romero uploaded the first two episodes of this season's 24 to the LiveDigital.com Web site on Jan. 6, which was eight days before it was broadcast on the Fox television network. He also is accused of uploading the second two episodes of 24 to the same site on Jan. 7.

And according to the criminal complaint, Romero on the same day also allegedly posted links to the uploads on other Web sites, making it easier for people to find the unauthorized episodes online.

Fox broadcast the first episodes of 24 on Jan. 14 and 15, and later released the four-episode season premiere on DVD.

According to an affidavit, Fox employees discovered the illegal uploads on LiveDigital on Jan. 8. On April 4, special agents with the FBI interviewed Romero, who admitted that he had obtained the pirated copies from another Web site, that he uploaded the episodes of 24 to LiveDigitial before their airing by Fox, and that he put links to the uploads on another Web site, the affidavit noted.

The series 24 stars Kiefer Sutherland as agent Jack Bauer, who works in a fictional anti-terror unit in the U.S. government. The show is presented in real time, with each season representing a day in the life of Bauer.

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