Canadian film distributors are welcoming the 2½-month-long sentence handed down on Tuesday to the Montreal man the FBI once called Canada's biggest movie pirate.
Gérémi Adam, 27, is the first Canadian sentenced to jail for breaking cinematic copyright under the country's revamped laws.
Adam was also ordered to complete 100 hours of community service and two years of probation for pleading guilty to two counts of distributing high-quality, pirated copies of Hollywood film productions.
The sentence is important, because of the jurisprudence that it sets, said Brigitte Melançon, vice president of marketing and communications at film distributor Alliance Vivafilm.
Film piracy "is very serious and … has very serious implications," said Melançon. "Even sales of DVDs, [and] sales to broadcasters after — it involves a lot of people and their jobs."
It's not known exactly how many movies Adam recorded inside commercial theatres or how many copies he sold over the internet. Operating under code name "Maven," Adam earned a reputation for producing cheap, high-quality film copies.
Adam was arrested a first time in September 2006 after he was caught distributing copies of Invincible, and How to Eat Fried Worms on the internet, shortly after both movies premiered in North American theatres.
Hollywood fought for changes to law
Hollywood's most powerful studios threatened to pull their films from Canadian theatres and lobbied the government to tighten copyright laws.
At the time, filming movies in theatres was not illegal under Canadian law, only distribution.
In 2007, the Conservative government amended copyright legislation. Under the new rules, making illegal movie recordings became a criminal offence punishable by six months in jail and a $25,000 fine.
Adam was then caught a second time in April 2008, filming the movie Street King at a downtown Montreal theatre.
Adam’s multiple offences played a role in the sentence handed down by Judge Suzanne Coupal, said Crown prosecutor Josée Bélanger.
"He committed a crime under the Criminal Code while he had a pending case under the same matter," said Bélanger.
"Also, the judge said — and it is true — that that kind of offence costs a lot of millions of dollars to the industry, and at the end it is the consumer who [pays] for that," she said.
During its investigation, the FBI called Adam Canada's biggest movie pirate, and labelled Montreal the epicentre of film pirating.
Crown prosecutor Bélanger had recommended a four-month sentence for Adam. Defence lawyer Richard Brouillard had asked for community service, arguing his client suffers from depression and is struggling after a troubled childhood.
Because of time already served, Adam will now spend less than one more week in jail.
The 27-year-old has been in detention since he was arrested in January in an attempted car theft.
Once he is released, Brouillard said his client hopes to return to school to study computers.