FBI Busts "Dr. Phil" Staffer For Online Pirating Of "The Revenant"
In the shadow of the Academy Awards, an employee of the "Dr. Phil" show has agreed to plead guilty to a felony charge for illegally uploading a copy of “The Revenant” to a BitTorrent site where more than one million visitors downloaded a copy of the Oscar-nominated film starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
According to a February 26 plea agreement, William Kyle Morarity obtained “screener” copies of “The Revenant” and “The Peanuts Movie” in mid-December. The 31-year-old Morarity had admitted taking the DVD discs “without authorization” while working for a TV production on a Hollywood studio lot.
Morarity “made copies of the Copyrighted Films and transported them home on a portable USB drive,” reported prosecutors.
While court records do not identify Morarity’s employer, TSG has learned that he worked as a production coordinator for the “Dr. Phil” show, which shoots on the Paramount lot. Morarity, a married father of two young children, told FBI agents that he uploaded the films to the Pass the Popcorn web site from his Los Angeles County home.
Thanks to Morarity, “The Revenant” was available for peer-to-peer downloads a week before its initial opening in four theaters (and three weeks before its nationwide release).
As detailed in the plea agreement, "over one million people" downloaded the version of “The Revenant” uploaded by Morarity. Prosecutors estimated that Twentieth Century Fox, the film’s distributor, suffered at least $1.12 million in losses due to the online piracy.
Morarity (seen above) is scheduled to be arraigned next month on the copyright infringement count, which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison.