Judges reaffirm reversal of truck forfeiture in pirated movies case

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The Indiana Court of Appeals granted the state’s petition for rehearing in a case in which the judges ruled a man shouldn’t have had his truck taken by the state because he sold pirated movies from it. But the appellate court again ruled in favor of Michael Curtis.

In Michael L. Curtis v. State of Indiana, 49A02-1203-MI-271, the judges reaffirmed their decision to reverse the denial of Curtis’ motion for relief from judgment after the state successfully petitioned to seize Curtis’ truck following his guilty plea to one count of fraud. They held in their January ruling that copyright infringement does not constitute theft.

The state argued that Yao v. State, 975 N.E.2d 1273 (Ind. 2012), would require the court to uphold the forfeiture of Curtis’ truck. In that case, the Indiana justices ruled that the trademarks alleged to be stolen could constitute property depending on the evidence presented at trial.

But Yao doesn’t necessarily answer the forfeiture question, Senior Judge John Sharpnack pointed out.

“We find that where the underlying offense actually charged is, as here, fraud (knowingly or intentionally selling a recording for commercial gain or personal financial gain that does not conspicuously display the true name and address of the manufacturer of the recording) and not theft (knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over another person’s property with intent to deprive that person of any part of its value or use) or conversion (knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over another person’s property), there is no predicate for forfeiture,” he wrote.



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