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Fox Fires 2 After Finding Film Downloads on Server

March 18, 2004|Patrick Day | Times Staff Writer

Two employees of Fox Entertainment Group have been terminated after the company's discovery of illegally downloaded movies and software on a Fox computer network server.

The titles found on the server included "Bringing Down the House," "Daddy Day Care," "Old School," "Daredevil," "Deliver Us From Eva," "The Matrix Reloaded" and "X2: X-Men United."

Lisa Yamamoto, an employee of the company's information technology department, was linked to use of the server after the in-house investigation of an unrelated computer security issue in November 2003, according to an affidavit posted to the Smoking Gun website.

Fox alerted federal authorities, who traced access of the server to Yamamoto's Los Angeles apartment, according to the affidavit, which was verified by investigators. Agents searched her apartment last month and seized computer equipment.

Kevin Sarna, identified in the affidavit as a Fox contract employee, was also terminated in connection with the investigation, according to a person familiar with the case. Neither has been formally charged, although Fox said in a statement that it intended to prosecute any individuals implicated in the case.

"We are outraged that individuals within our own company not only engaged in this behavior but also used our technology to do so," Fox said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.

Yamamoto and Sarna could not be reached for comment.

James Todak, the Secret Service deputy special agent in charge, said the investigation was ongoing.

Yamamoto and Sarna allegedly were members of an online "warez" file-sharing group. Such groups compete "to gain a reputation as the fastest, highest quality, free provider of pirated computer software

Fox's antipiracy team was able to identify 14 movies -- not all Fox films -- available for other members of the "warez" group to download for free from the Fox server.

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