Another Czech charged in film piracy case


    A second Czech faces charges of copyright infringement as Czech authorities start clamping down on film piracy. Only a month after a 19-year-old student was charged with pirating The Simpsons Movie, a 35-year-old man from Prague was formally charged on Saturday with illegally copying and distributing the domestic smash hit Vratné Lahve (Empties).

    Empties, the newest film of Czech director Jan Svěrák, is doing well on the international festival circuit with showings in Venice, Toronto and London. The suspect is accused of copyright infringement for copying the only DVD that exists of Empties and posting it on the Internet. The official DVD will be released in October.

    The DVD copy was traced to the Czech Culture Ministry. Jan Svěrák´s company, Biograf Jan Svěrák (www.sverak.cz, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), made that copy exclusively for the Ministry and provided it to an agent of the ministry, according to Iva Knolová, press spokeswoman for the Prague police.

    "The same copy was later available on the Internet," Knolová said, according to the news agency ČTK. Police were continuing their investigation.

    The illegal copying also caused financial damage to the Czech distributor of Empties, Falcon a.s. (www.falcon.cz). A representative of Falcon said losses have not yet been calculated.

    The Czech Culture Ministry has refused to concede it contributed in any way to the incident. An internal audit ordered by Culture Minister Václav Jehlička in August "did not demonstrate any mistake on the part of the Ministry or its clerks."