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Eight US residents suspected of involvement in leaking the final Star Wars film onto the net prior to its official release have been charged with copyright infringement offences.

According to court documents, a copy of Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith was taken from Californian post-production firm and leaked onto the net in the days up to the film's world wide theatrical debut in May.

Albert Valente, 28, of Lakewood, California, has pleaded guilty to copyright infringement charges over allegations that he unlawfully took a screener copy of the film (intended for review purposes only) from the unnamed post-production house where he worked, the BBC reports.

Marc Hoaglin, 36, of Huntington Beach, California, has been charged with uploading the film onto the net, an offences punishable by up to three years imprisonment. Six other defendants have been charged with misdemeanor copyright infringement offences that could, upon convicted, land them in jail for up to 12 months.

All eight face an appearance in court next month. ®

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