Hulk Movie Bootlegger Gets Punishment, Probation

Kerry Gonzalez received fines, home confinement and probation yesterday. "I refuse to see the movie because it's caused me so much trouble," he said. "I'm so sorry I did this, and I won't do this again."


Kerry Gonzalez received fines, home confinement and probation yesterday. He had received an unfinished print of the summer-release movie from a friend.


The New Jersey man who sent a bootleg copy of the blockbuster movie The Hulk to the Internet was sentenced yesterday to six months' home confinement and three years' probation.

Kerry Gonzalez, 24, of Hamilton Township, Mercer County, pleaded guilty earlier this summer to federal copyright infringement, making him one of just a handful of people prosecuted for Internet piracy.

Gonzalez, who was also fined $2,000 and ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution to Universal Studios, uploaded the film at a time when the movie industry has broadened its fight against free content on the Web.

"Think about what's going on with file-sharing," said Matthew V. Portella, the attorney for Gonzalez. "The situation was ripe to do something like this."

For Gonzalez, a College of New Jersey graduate, the case cost him his job as an insurance underwriter. And, in some ways, he knows he became an example in a national debate.

"There's so much of this Internet piracy going on," he said. "They had to do something to somebody."

Gonzalez got a copy of an unfinished "work print" of the movie that had been sent to a New York advertising agency. The print was missing some special effects, graphics, and a soundtrack. An ad agency employee gave the copy to a friend, who passed the movie to Gonzalez, prosecutors said.

Using his home computer, Gonzalez made a digital copy and uploaded it to a Web site based in the Netherlands, used by movie enthusiasts to trade bootleg films.

Prosecutors did not identify the Web site or the ad agency. No one from the ad agency has been charged.

The FBI traced the Internet copy back to Gonzalez through an encoded "security tag" on the print.

Movie-industry executives have become sensitive to piracy after witnessing the travails of the music industry, which blames the availability of free music on the Internet for a three-year sales slump topping $5 billion.

While movies can take hours to download, new technology in the coming years threatens to shrink the time to minutes. A consulting firm cited by the Motion Picture Association of America already puts the number of films pirated off the Internet at 400,000 to 600,000 a day, and no one has calculated what that costs the industry.

Jack Valenti, the president of the Motion Picture Association, went before Congress in March to warn that "America's crown jewels - its intellectual property - are being looted."

Although thousands of movies are available on the Internet, Gonzalez's case drew attention because he posted an unfinished version of The Hulk two weeks before its theatrical release. Typically, movies do not hit the Internet until after they have been released.

Internet viewers who saw an unfinished version generated a negative buzz that studio executives say could have depressed ticket sales. The movie, which cost $150 million to make, has earned $130 million so far.

Vivendi Universal Entertainment, which produced The Hulk, commissioned several studies to determine what Gonzalez's actions cost the studio. While assigning a dollar amount is an inexact science, the studio settled on about $66 million in a victim-impact statement to the federal court.

Through all this, Gonzalez has never watched the movie.

"I refuse to see the movie because it's caused me so much trouble," he said. "I'm so sorry I did this, and I won't do this again."
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