HONG KONG MOVIE PIRATE JAILED
An appeals court in Hong Kong has upheld the conviction of a man who used the online handle "Big Crook" when he uploaded three movies onto the Internet via the BitTorrent program. Chan Nai-ming, 39, began serving a three-month prison sentence after the judge, Clare-Marie Beeson, rejected Chan's plea that he simply be allowed to perform community service. In his appeal Chan had argued that the original judge did not take into consideration the fact that he did not profit from uploading the movies. But Beeson said in her ruling that the judge had measured the seriousness of the crime by the harm done to the copyright holders, not by the gain made by Chan, who at the time was "aware of the possible criminal implications of uploading films to the system." Beeson also rejected Chan's argument that the movies "were neither current, nor in the 'blockbuster' category," commenting that the original judge "was not in a position to assess the quality or value of such material." Hong Kong news reports said that the case represented "the world's first criminal conviction of a movie uploader."
BORAT HIT WITH ANOTHER LAWSUIT
An outtake from Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan involving an encounter between a man and Borat in a South Carolina restaurant restroom has triggered the latest lawsuit involving the movie. The clip has reportedly been posted on the YouTube site and has been shown on Comedy Central, according to an attorney for the man, who was not identified in the lawsuit. The attorney said that his client has been "embarrassed and humiliated by the film." Sacha Baron-Cohen, who starred in Borat in the title role, has not responded. Published reports did not indicate whether the man had signed a waiver to appear in the film.
STONE FINED FOR FILMING INTERVIEW WITH CASTRO
The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control has disclosed that Oliver Stone's Santa Monica, CA-based Ixtlan production company and four unidentified individuals had agreed to pay $6,322,20 to settle allegations of violations of the Cuban embargo that occurred while Stone was filming a documentary about Fidel Castro between Feb. 2002 and May 2003. An OFAC statement described the production as dealing "in services in which the government of Cuba or a Cuban national has an interest." The settlement, disclosed in a terse news release that mentioned other fines against individuals who had recently traveled to Cuba (including an unnamed man who went there to purchase cigars), was brought to light by the online indieWIRE, which focuses on independent film productions. Stone's Looking for Fidel did not receive a theatrical release but was presented on HBO in 2004.
LITTLE NOTICED LITTLE CHILDREN A WINNER WITH S.F. CRITICS
Todd Field's Little Children, which has had limited distribution in the U.S., dominated the awards presented by the San Francisco Film Critics circle on Tuesday. The movie won for best film, best adapted screenplay, and best supporting actor (Jackie Earle Haley). Sacha Baron Cohen was named best actor for Borat, while Helen Mirren took the best actress award for The Queen.
N.Y. PRODUCERS TO SHUT DOWN HIGH FIDELITY AFTER 10 DAYS
High Fidelity, the 2000 movie based on Nick Hornby's best seller, may have become a modest success in theaters when it was released and a cult favorite in its afterlife on DVD, but it has flopped as a Broadway musical. Producers of the $10-million production (about half the cost of the movie), said Tuesday that they will shut down the musical on Sunday, Dec. 17, just ten days after it opened to generally poor reviews and poor advance sales.