Ex-Lucasfilm worker faces 'Star Wars' theft charges. Used PowerBook G4 to steal.

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by peter2002, Oct 9, 2002.

  1. peter2002 macrumors 6502

    Aug 1, 2002
    Dallas, TX
    Shea O'Brien Foley, a former employee of Lucasfilm who has denied leaking a copy of "Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones" to an Internet reviewer has been charged with 13 felony counts in connection with the theft of an estimated $450,000 worth of materials related to the blockbuster film.

    The theft of sound effects, storyboard images, the film score and hundreds of digital images and video files occurred between September 2000 and April 2002, when Shea O'Brien Foley was employed as a production assistant at the Lucas Valley filmmaking company.

    Foley, 30, moved back to his native Southern California earlier this year to work at NBC. He was arrested at his Burbank workplace at 10:10 a.m. yesterday by officers with the Department of Motor Vehicles' computer forensics and investigations office.

    He was booked into Los Angeles County Jail and is being held in lieu of $200,000 bail on the warrant, which charges him with four counts of unlawful access to a computer system and nine counts of grand theft.

    The case results from an internal company investigation launched after a review of the fifth installment of the "Star Wars" series appeared on the Internet Web site aint-it-cool-news.com on March 17, two months before its theatrical release on May 16.

    Based on references in the review, Lucasfilm officials concluded the writer, Harry Knowles, had seen an early version of the film. Knowles did not return messages left yesterday.

    It became apparent that the source of the "bootleg copy" and other information about the film was coming from someone working at Skywalker Ranch, the multi-unit production complex owned by George Lucas, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed by Marin Deputy District Attorney Paul Haakenson.

    Foley quickly became a suspect because of information posted on "Star Wars"-related chat rooms under the name "Shay." At one such site, "Shay" placed a picture of Foley's winning costume - of character Boba Fett - from a Lucasfilm costume contest held around Halloween 2001, the court document said.

    Legal paperwork in the case, filed Monday, has since been sealed by court order.

    If convicted as charged, Foley would face a maximum prison sentence of seven years and four months, Haakenson said.

    The prosecutor would not say whether any criminal charges are pending against Knowles.

    The amount of actual loss to Lucasfilm could be in the millions of dollars, according to the court document.

    Among the stolen items that were recovered, according to the affidavit:

    ? Nineteen CD-ROM discs containing the entire restricted library of sound effects created during the past 25 years for use in the "Star Wars" films, with an estimated "collectible value" of $95,000.

    ? More than 2,000 high-quality digital images from "Episode II," valued at $125,000.

    ? Hundreds of video files of "Episode II," from concept shots to final clips, valued at $100,000.

    ? About 113 storyboard images - or sketches outlining scenes from the film - with handwritten notes by Lucas, valued at more than $100,000.

    Foley had worked at Lucasfilm as a production assistant for Todd Busch, the first assistant director for the company, who edited "Episode II."

    "(Foley) maintained databases, knew production schedules and many intimate details concerning the film itself," according to the arrest warrant affidavit.

    On April 2, Lucasfilm officials downloaded the hard drive of Foley's Apple G4 laptop computer while he was away from his work area. The downloading was done at the direction of Patrick Webb, a security consultant and private investigator working for Lucasfilm, under the terms of a non-disclosure agreement signed by Foley, the court document said.

    Webb and other Lucasfilm officials subsequently found files that Foley was not authorized to have, the affidavit said.

    Foley was called in to see Webb and other company officials the next day.

    He allowed them to access his laptop; however, most of the files at issue were no longer found on the computer.

    According to the affidavit, Foley initially declined taking anything, but then acknowledged downloading some "clips" and the film soundtrack, which he said he no longer had.

    When threatened with dismissal, Foley admitted that he had taken photo images, storyboards and a script for "Star Wars Episode I: Phantom Menace," but "nothing big," according to the court document. He specifically denied having a copy of "Episode II."

    Foley said he was an "avid fan" and had taken the items for his "souvenir collection" at his Petaluma home, according to the court document.

    Foley agreed to allow Webb to look through the items at his home and when they arrived at his Lakeville Circle townhouse the investigator saw "tons of 'Star Wars' items," Webb said in the affidavit. Foley turned over numerous items, including 25 CDs with images of the film, three videotapes of "Episode I" voice-over tests, 115 storyboard image strips and a hard disk drive with downloaded photo images.

    On April 4, Rick McCallum, executive producer of "Episode II," viewed the CDs Webb received from Foley and determined they contained a large portion of the film.

    "McCallum verified that (Foley) was not allowed to possess these, and the loss of control of these items represented a major loss to Lucasfilm," the court document said.

    Foley met with Lucasfilm officials later in the day. He expressed no remorse, according to the affidavit, and was fired.



    If your going to steal, don't use a pic of yourself as an avatar and brag about it on a bulletin board.

  2. Durandal7 macrumors 68040

    Feb 24, 2001
  3. Hemingray macrumors 68030


    Jan 9, 2002
    Ha ha haaa!
    They can keep all that crap... all I would want would be the sound effects. :D

    Especially the Wilhelm Scream. :cool:
  4. chewbaccapits macrumors 6502a


    Jul 10, 2001
    Torrance, Californizzel
  5. blackpeter macrumors 6502a

    Aug 14, 2001
    Yeah. I was kinda feeling sorry for the guy. Especially because the review Knowles' wrote was so glowing. I just felt that whoever had leaked the film was a true fan who knew that Knowles would appreciate it and put the word out.

    But after reading this article, it seems that the kind of stuff he was stealing was crossing the line big time. Like maybe it was his intention to sell it for a big profit at a later date. Who knows?
  6. groovebuster macrumors 65816


    Jan 22, 2002
    3rd rock from the sun...
    What I find really disturbing is, that the theft is estimated on the virtual "collectible value"! That is somehow stupid. Lucas Films just suffered a material loss, by items that he took physically. To copy some files that are not on the official market for sale also can't be valued like that!? However, the production was finished already and it didn't do any damage to the movie in particular... So what?

    On the other hand Lucas Films should be questioned, how that dude was able to steal so many things and had access to so many files and items he wasn't supposed to and nobody really noticed until they found all the stuff in his apartment? That reminds me of a bank, that is storing the money in front of the house without any safety measures and they don't even notice, when some of the money is gone...

  7. Mr. Anderson Moderator emeritus

    Mr. Anderson

    Nov 1, 2001
    Well, when he gets out, he wont work in that town ever again....

    But it seems to me by padding the value of the items as collectible value, they're thinking he might have been planning on doing the ebay thing - given his stupidity, he might have done just that. Fool - what did he think an NDA was and is it worth your career and years of your life?
  8. groovebuster macrumors 65816


    Jan 22, 2002
    3rd rock from the sun...
    Yeah, but he didn't so far! Since when you can be charged for something that you didn't do so far? That reminds a lot of the movie Minority Report...

  9. mcrain macrumors 68000


    Feb 8, 2002
    Well, couple of things... First, I would guess that if the attorneys for Lucas did their job right, they drafted the NDA to allow for a valuation of intellectual property using multiple methods, including the use of a "collectable" value. If not, since this isn't a criminal suit (yet), the value of the asset will be established as a matter of evidence, and it is not necessary that the amount recovered bear any relationship to the the amount the defendant actually sold the item for. In other words, if a thief takes a valuable piece of artwork (say worth a million), and tries to sell it for 10,000, the plaintiff is entitled to recover the full value, even if the item was never sold, merely destroyed.

    If this goes criminal, all the prosecuting attorney need prove is that the value of the item is in excess of whatever limits are necessary for the crime (i.e. 10000 or whatever for a class whatever felony).
  10. dricci macrumors 6502a

    Dec 15, 2001
  11. benixau macrumors 65816


    Oct 9, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    how DARE he

    He moves to number one on a lot of have to kill lists. How DARE he use a mac in the proccess of commiting a felony.

    Hey guys do a check, see if he worked for apple once and stole the pb??? Would be interesting ......
  12. MrMacMan macrumors 604


    Jul 4, 2001
    1 Block away from NYC.
    Well that sucks for him, he didn't even steal a GOOD movie. L0L :p
    IMO, Ep 2 wasn't that good ... I donno ... seems a little overkill since he didn't make a Profit off the leak... I mean wtf are they gonna do sue him for money that he doesn't have....?
    eh? Over kill Lucas, overkill.
  13. RogueLdr macrumors regular

    Jul 22, 2002
    People's Republic of Ann Arbor
    The value of "collectibles"

    His violation of his NDA is probably what set this valuation in motion. If his NDA provided for a valuation of what leaked intellectual property would bear on the collectible market, then it would make sense that a collectible valuation would come into play whether he had sold any of it or not.

    He is not being charged with selling the material from LFL, only for stealing it in the first place. As a penalty, he will have to pay (if found culpable) the value of what the material would have bore on the collectible market.

    As a criminal charge (grand theft) the value of the items on an open market comes heavily into play. If a person steals your car, regardless of whether or not he sells it, it is the value of your car in its present condition that determines how much, monetarily, he stole from you. The same rule applies here.


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