A FORMER studio worker faces the prospect of three years behind bars after pleading guilty to copyright infringement for illegally uploading a DVD screener of Oscar-nominated film The Revenant to the internet.

In a plea agreement signed with the US Department of Justice, William Kyle Morarity admitted to copying a high quality screener of the film to a portable drive before uploading it to BitTorrent site, Pass The Popcorn, six days prior to The Revenant’s theatrical release. Mr Morarity claimed to have gotten access to the screener while working on a movie studio lot.

According to report from the Justice Department, the early release of the film was responsible for significant damage to the copyright holders.“Over one million people have downloaded from peer-to-peer networks the version of The Revenant that defendant uploaded to the internet. Fox has suffered losses of at least $1.12 million,” the statement read, reports TorrentFreak.

The 31-year-old was charged after an extensive FBI investigation, although exact details how he was identified as the uploader remain a mystery.However, details from his plea agreement show he uploaded the movies from his home address.

Assistant Director of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, David Bowdich, said the law enforcement agency was happy to bring the pirate to justice.“Stealing movies is not a victimless crime.

The FBI will continue to pursue those who steal intellectual property, a crime that negatively impacts the US economy and, in the case of a movie leak, victimises everyday workers in the entertainment industry,” he told Variety.

US Attorney Eileen Decker said leaks were a risk to the local entertainment industries, so she also commended the FBI’s efforts to catch Mr Morarity.“As the Academy Awards ceremony this weekend highlights, the entertainment industry is the economic cornerstone of the Central District of California,” she said.

“Therefore, my office is committed to protecting its intellectual property. The defendant’s conduct harmed the very industry that was providing his livelihood as well as the livelihood of others in southern California.”

Australian movie executive Village Roadshow boss Graham Burke hoped the message will resonate with pirates on a local level.

As co-financer of Australian Oscar contender Mad Max: Fury Road, Mr Burke said he had seen first-hand the damage one man’s actions can have on the livelihood of others.“People who take action like this for money don’t understand there will be no economic model to make future Revenant or Mad Max movies,”.

Mr Morarity is scheduled to be arraigned next month and faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison.