LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - A second person has agreed to plead guilty in the case involving a copy of the Mike Myers bomb “The Love Guru” leaking on the Internet a day before its theatrical release.
The whole affair could serve as a cautionary tale to folks who abuse their access to unreleased films, even when their motivation might be as innocuous as to, say, be the life of a party.
Mischa Wynhausen, 31, of Irvine, Calif., is set to make his felony plea in the next couple of months, and it’s agreed he’ll serve three years’ probation for the crime of uploading the Paramount Pictures movie to the Internet.
Wynhausen got the copy through family members of Jack Yates, a 28-year-old employee at Los Angeles Duplication & Broadcasting. Paramount had engaged that company to make clips that were to air on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” but Yates decided to take an extra copy himself for screening at a family gathering.
It was a terrible miscalculation by Yates, leading to investigations by his employer and the FBI, and to his arrest.
Yates pled guilty to a misdemeanor for illegally distributing the movie to others, served six months in a federal prison, and was released September 21.
While Wynhausen’s crime of posting a film illegally on the Internet was more substantial than was the crime committed by Yates -- a felony, in fact -- unlike Yates, he’ll serve no prison time. Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said the reason in part stems from the fact that Yates originally tried to obstruct the investigation by lying to the FBI, while Wynhausen was cooperative.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Erik Silber wouldn’t discuss a motive for the crimes, except to say that no one involved seemed to profit from it monetarily. But according to an affidavit, Yates brought his unauthorized copy of the movie for viewing at a birthday party for his grandmother. From there, it went to a cousin and then to Wynhausen.
No fines were assessed against Wynhausen or Yates, though Wynhausen has agreed to pay restitution to Paramount, an amount to be determined probably by summer. An affidavit indicates the infringing video was posted to mininova.org and that it was downloaded 85,000 times in the eight months it was there.
In cracking the case, Yates’ former employer, LADB, supplied surveillance footage taken on May 29, 2008, to the FBI that showed Yates with two copies of the movie. The video shows him hiding one of the copies as he approaches his parked car.
The movie opened June 20, 2008, but Wynhausen, a friend of some of Yates’ family members, posted it to the Internet on June 19, 2008, and again the next day.
“The Love Guru” grossed $32 million at the domestic box office and another $8.6 million in foreign markets.