SYDNEY (Hollywood Reporter) - D'oh! Australia has the dubious distinction of being the first country in the world where "The Simpsons Movie" was pirated, with an illegal Internet copy of the worldwide hit traced to a man who allegedly used his cell phone to record the movie at a cinema.
The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) said Friday that a 21-year-old man from Sydney, the country's biggest city, was arrested the day before in relation to the unauthorized recording and uploading and charged with copyright theft. He faces up to five years jail.
Close international cooperation among the Australian Federal Police, AFACT and distributor 20th Century Fox resulted in the removal of the unauthorized recording within 72 hours of its posting. But during that window the movie was uploaded to a U.S.-based global streaming site where it was viewed or downloaded more than 3,000 times.
AFACT additionally tracked it to other streaming sites and P2P systems where it had been illegally downloaded in excess of 110,000 times. Investigators even found a version of the film dubbed in French.
Copies of "Simpsons" already are widely available on the street in China, though it is unclear if the Chinese copies came from the Australian upload.
AFACT executive director Adrianne Pecotic described the spread of illegal copies across the Internet as a "wildfire."
"The speed and spread of illegal copies across the global Internet as a result of this camcord copy being made from a mobile phone in a Sydney cinema is staggering," she said.
Unauthorized recording of films in cinemas is on the rise in Australia, with police answering seven reported incidents of camcording in the past six weeks, more than half using mobile phones, AFACT said.