Movie pirate dies rotting away in jail


Reverend J used our news submit to tell us that convicted US pirate Russell Sprague has been found dead in his prison cell of a suspected heart attack. Sprague had been convicted of both copying and distributing film preview tapes and was scheduled to be sentenced in less than three weeks (21 March). Sprague had pleaded guilty of one count of copyright infringement and Sprague could have faced up to a maximum of three years if he had lived to the sentencing date.

Sprague had been accused of making copies of over 134 preview movies, including such hits as Kill-Bill and Sea-biscuit. Sprague received tapes from actor Carmine Cardi who received preview tapes from studios to members of the Academy of Motion Picture arts and Sciences who vote in the Oscars.


Actor Cardi was fined $300,000 (£156,270) last November for providing preview tapes such as Mystic River and Last Samurai to Sprague. Actor Cardi accepted he had sent tapes to him but said she had no idea of Sprague’s illegal activities and thought that he was just a film buff. Columbia Tristar has also filed a suit and is currently pending.

On a site note, Carmine Cardi was the first member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to be expelled. Cardi was expelled on Tuesday, 3rd February 2004, due to the Academies new anti piracy agreement.

LegalA US man convicted of illegally copying and distributing film preview tapes has been found dead in his prison cell. Russell Sprague, 52, was awaiting sentencing, which was scheduled for 21 March, after pleading guilty last year to one count of copyright infringement. US officials said Sprague, who faced up to three years in prison, may have died of a heart attack.

Sprague was accused of copying 134 preview movies including Kill Bill: Vol 1 and Seabiscuit. Prosecutors said Sprague had received the tapes from actor Carmine Caridi who starred in The Godfather: Part II. The films were preview tapes of movies sent out by studios to members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who vote in certain Oscars categories.


Caridi was fined $300,000 (£156, 270) in November for providing copies of The Last Samurai and Mystic River to Sprague, following a lawsuit by Warner Bros. Caridi admitted sending VHS tapes to Sprague but denied having any knowledge of his criminal activities. He claimed that he thought Sprague was a film buff but in fact Sprague made the films available to download on the internet. A similar case filed by Columbia Pictures is still pending.


This is just
wrong man who didn’t commit any of the most serious crimes such as murder,
theft, money laundering or drug dealing etc is locked up and made to wait till
sentencing. His crime was bad and it was a crime, but he didn’t have to be
subjected to this, being locked up like a hardened criminal.


He could have awaited his sentencing with his family or friends but instead he is locked up and left. Lets face it, if the music / movie industry had its way, making a copy of a film would be as serious as murder, theft etc. What next, the movie industry asking for the death penalty for those that copy too many films or download too many? Greedy industries don’t care about a person, they care about money and that’s it. The justice system just isn’t fair.

Reverend J posted this little bit of info “For those who don”t know the story, Russell Sprague was given screeners from the actor Carmine Caridi, who was a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Sprague converted to DVD and put the videos on the internet. Later he was arrested by the FBI and fined $300,000. Keep in mind that criminally negligent homicide in his state would only bring imprisonment for not more than one year, a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both.”


Source: BBC NEWS