FBI Arrests Wolverine Leaker; Don't You Feel Safer Now?

from the tax-dollars-at-work dept

Much of the reasoning behind Joe Biden’s recent summit with entertainment industry bosses and a variety of top administration officials — including the Attorney General and the head of the FBI — was to “coordinate” enforcement efforts. Efforts, one assumes, like the FBI’s hard work in tracking down and arresting the guy who put a pre-release version of the movie Wolverine online, even though it was lacking in special effects and final audio. As we noted at the time, there were many ways that the studio could have responded to the leak that made them look cool and would have encouraged more people to go see the real movie. Instead, 20th Century Fox went ballistic about how evil this was, and got the FBI to act as its private police force. Of course, despite how this leak “ruined” the movie, Wolverine (despite mostly dismal reviews) had a massive opening and went on to earn $180 million at the box office, significantly more than it’s $130 million budget. But, of course, the movie industry is dying, and our tax payer money should be used to track down the guy who did so much “damage.”

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Comments on “FBI Arrests Wolverine Leaker; Don't You Feel Safer Now?”

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63 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Go past moral outrage, and go right off to scorn.

Mike, sorry, this one leaves you sounding like a whiny child. There are plenty of laws out there I don’t agree with, but I understand that law enforcement needs to, well, enforce them. I hate parking tickets and I hate that anti-abortion people absorb an incredible amount of police time and effort every year. I don’t go get all whiny about it.

The guy broke the law (not just copyright, but apparently stole it off of movie property). End of story. How much the movie made or didn’t make isn’t material. It is up to the copyright holder to decide what is and is not given away, not some sneaky thief.

Grow up Mike, this is one where you come off very badly.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“There are plenty of laws out there I don’t agree with, but I understand that law enforcement needs to, well, enforce them.”

I would be interested to know where Mike has ever suggested that laws shouldn’t be enforced. There is a difference between condemning bad law and implying that lawlessness is preferred.

“The guy broke the law (not just copyright, but apparently stole it off of movie property). End of story. How much the movie made or didn’t make isn’t material. It is up to the copyright holder to decide what is and is not given away, not some sneaky thief.”

Then you miss Mike’s point, which is as nearly it always is, what they have done makes bad business sense. Put that with the crocodile tears that they are losing money and although Mike might be careful not to say that it’s ok to infringe copyright, someone like me will gladly say it. Laws aren’t the be all and end all, if you believe that then you might be interested to know that many of our most important law developments came about because someone broke bad law. Look up civil disobedience for some examples.

So, feel free to argue that copyright infringement is wrong and harmful but don’t bother pointing out that it is unlawful. Whether something is lawful or not is only relevant to the police, everyone else is free to make their own choices even if it does end up getting them arrested. Even if they do get arrested then they are perfectly entitled to argue that what they did wasn’t wrong.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I would be interested to know where Mike has ever suggested that laws shouldn’t be enforced. There is a difference between condemning bad law and implying that lawlessness is preferred.

But, of course, the movie industry is dying, and our tax payer money should be used to track down the guy who did so much “damage.”

Sounds to me like he is saying that taxpayer money shouldn’t have been wasted enforcing the law.

This case is very particular, because it isn’t about piracy directly, but rather about theft. The copy of the movie was stolen, either by hacking or literally leaving the building with a copy. At that point, he made his crime worse by uploading the file to megaupload so the whole world could get it.

Mike just isn’t happy because the studios are “too dumb” to profit from the free advertising. You know, the advertising they didn’t choose to have, that they probably didn’t want, and some dumbass from the Bronx gave them anyway?

Skillygilly (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Been doing a lot of reading. Many valid points in lots of comments. Thanks for the DUMB ASS FROM THE BRONX comment. Truly I am. Won’t try to dispute that. Uploading the movie has really turned my life around. All for the worst. Your comment about hacking or leaving the building with a copy wasn’t done by me. I simply purchased it for $5 on a Bronx street corner. The 1st time I ever went to L.A was 2 appear at Federal Court. Me being a musician/producer, didn’t really think much about intellectual property until I heard 1 of my tracks being used by a rapper with no credit given to me. He went as far as saying he produced the track. My stomach turned. So I now know how FOX must had felt. Apologies are no good, feeling bad is no good. I broke a law true. I’m Guilty of that. I already plead Guilty in court, sentencing is Sept. If I could go back to March 31 or was it 30th? I 4 got. I would have never purchased it. I won’t try 2 justify my actions in any way. I was wrong. Just have to own up to whatever the courts decide. Hopefully some kind of house arrest/probation. try to pay a fine. I don’t know. But honestly, If there’s a God up in heaven, (And I Hope there Is) because I’ve been praying for over a year now, may he let the courts decide properly and not be influenced. Thank You All For UR comments.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Then you miss Mike’s point, which is as nearly it always is, what they have done makes bad business sense.

Nope, what they did makes perfect business sense. This isn’t a case of a minor piece of piracy, this is someone stealing their product from inside the company, and giving it away online. The giving it away online isn’t anywhere near the issue compared to the actual theft (no wiggle room on this one) of the product.

Mike’s take is that the company should look at whatever promotional value they got (hard to tell, and I often think that whatever benefit comes is offset by lost sales on the other side), and ignore the crime. What do they do next time when someone comes in and steals the finished copy, or wanders away with their production equipmnent? After all, it’s just a little theft, who cares? Maybe someone will write about it or make a you tube video and they will get advertising value.

What a crock of horse poop that is!

Derek Bredensteiner (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You hear bits and pieces, and you repeat some of them back, so I’ve got some hope still.

That’s right, promotional value is part of it. There’s a lot of other factors to consider too. It’s not as cut and dried as “He took our stuff, fuck him”. One of the other factors is how this reaction makes the studios look. Another one of the other factors is that “downloads != lost sales”. Another one of the other factors is the impossibility of stopping it. There’s an inevitability factor to contend with; as soon as you make something visible to that many people, it’s going to get captured with current technology, and that problem is only going to worsen over the next few years.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You are missing the point. If this was “he ripped a DVD and put it online” there is potentially some small space for discussion. This isn’t the case, he appears to have stolen the video directly from the company. No infringing here, outright theft. It’s not the same thing. I don’t give a hoot about the promotional value, whatever – that is the company’s choice to get that value or not. The guy in the bronx doesn’t get to make that choice for them.

As you will see from the swedish music sales numbers for 2009, it appears clear that a decline in piracy is represented pretty much directly by an increase in music sales. I think that the old “”downloads != lost sales” is being rapidly debunked.

Kyros (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Then deal with it as petty theft – and explain to me why the hell the FBI is involved and wasting my tax money on a petty theft of a video? Send the LEOs after the guy, not the Federal Bureau of Spending My Tax Money.

Why the hell should some minor thief who stole a DVD get the same treatment as a serial killer? Even if you want to claim he did intellectual damage (which he didn’t, at least not much, if you RTFA) then that’s a civil suit and should be handled as much.

Also, as to your last comment:
Piracy isn’t declining, it just moved HQs.
Correlation != Causation
Last I check, Music Sales was already increasing

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Actually, it isn’t petty theft. The movie has a value of X millions. His theft is of IP worth at least that.

Had he managed to get a finished copy rather than a pre-effects copy, his copy could have lead to pirated copies sold all over the world, with significant effects on sales and income.

His actions are not minor.

Piracy isn’t declining, it just moved HQs.
Correlation != Causation
Last I check, Music Sales was already increasing

Check the numbers. Sales of music (not live, just sales of recorded music) have been on the way down pretty much since Napster days (see the Swedish numbers). Yet, so far in 2009, they are showing an 18% increase over the previous year – in the same year that TPB got legally slapped and IPRED came into effect. Seems like there is a very good correlation at work.

As for Piracy “just moving”, well… it’s running out of places to move to. Sweden isn’t a safe haven anymore, and China isn’t predictable enough. There are very, very few places left to run a torrent site without having someone legally up your butt. Ask the Minniova guys.

Ryan Diederich says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

I hate you, you are dumb.

But honestly, Mike isn’t saying the law shouldnt be enforced. In fact, Mike never mentions that he actually stole it, it doesnt matter. He should go to jail for theft, no one is saying otherwise.

But… the FBI certainly doesnt need to get involved, and they dont need to waste funds on his speedy aprehension. They should have came out and announced that pirated copies were of poor quality, so come see it in theatres folks.

The main point is, filing suit or not, the same damage was done. IMHO, if I had a choice of sending someone to prison or not, and the results were the same no matter what, I probably wouldnt do it.

yanno

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Ryan, theft over a certain amount, and something that may have happened over state lines pretty much makes it a federal case. While the method used to obtain the movie has not be released yet, there is good potential it was done over the internet from one state to another using some sort of hack or back door access, or was transmitted out from one state to another, again a federal case.

The theft is the underlying and very significant part of this case, which Mike is specifically ignoring so that his scorn factor is a little higher.

It’s the funny part: Put up to answer the question, Mike would say “no, I am against theft” in the same manner that he claims to be against piracy, yet every time there is a story involving a pirating website or individual, he always comes up on the side of the pirates. Sort of amazing, isn’t it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

Multiple physical copies of the movie exist since there are multiple activities being performed on the movie at any one time. All the parts are eventually combined as each portion is completed. That leaves the possibility that any of the multiple versions floating around the studio could be stolen, though far from complete. The loss of one of those physical copies can be annoying and potentially costly if the copy stolen had completed or even partially completed portions, but with application of additional resources anything lost could be recovered using the other, existing versions.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Actually, it isn’t petty theft. The movie has a value of X millions. His theft is of IP worth at least that.

Wait, I thought you said he stole a copy of the movie. Surely one copy of an unfinished movie isn’t worth millions of dollars! He couldn’t possibly have stolen their IP, since they still had it after he was done. I think you are confused. Or perhaps intentionally confusing the issues.

My problem with this situation isn’t even that taxpayer money was used for a stupid investigation (ok I don’t like that part either). My problem is that they apparently did the investigation at the behest of the movie studio. The FBI should be determining on their own where their resources should be spent, not having it told to them by corporations.

And their top priority should be figuring out why everyone blacked out for 137 seconds, and if it’s going to happen again.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Surely one copy of an unfinished movie isn’t worth millions of dollars! He couldn’t possibly have stolen their IP, since they still had it after he was done.

Whatever work that version represented that had yet to be incorporated into the finished product might well have been worth millions. They did not have whatever unique content that particular copy had after they were deprived of it. Further, a physical copy of a limited number of copies were deprived to the owner, which undoubtedly represented some measure of hardship. Perhaps not millions, but not negligible either.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Even if they do get arrested then they are perfectly entitled to argue that what they did wasn’t wrong.

Many convicted criminals have argued what they did was not wrong, including mass murderers, rapists, and robbers.

A person who has illegally obtained something by breaking one or more laws (possibly trespassing, possibly stealing a disc that clearly was not his, possibly other crimes that could, had he been discovered in the act, have led to his death had the owner of the private property he violated felt threatened and reacted with deadly force) I am sure is going to take the philosophical high road and explain how these crimes were just intended to be part of his “civil disobedience.” Good luck with that.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I was going to sit here and haze you on every thing you said … I actually typed in about 300 character of stuff after the comment that ended “Ask the Minniova guys”

But you made me notice something, its a simple observation. All of you industry shill’s and cling ons have been doing the manic “this secret I know is going to change everything dance” for a week now. So what was in the “a new day is dawning memo” that got you idiots so enthused?

Let me guess ….

1) The visit with Joe Biden.
2) ACTA staying secret until its to late.
3) The fact that your record label execs are reading the numbers wrong? piravy is actually increasing in sweden because everyone is going encrypted, and the increase in sale in sweden is because of advertising not IPRED.

Here is a secret I told here today. I want ACTA to go through. My rationale is simple. RIAA sued 30,000 people it was a public relations nightmare. $80,000 USD per song as a fine really backfired. The labels have artists speaking out against the law suits and leaving the labels over it. You have also alienated your client base with it. I cant count how often I have gone to artists sites and seen the words “F#ck RIAA” and “F#ck the record labels” in the comments from fans.

Now lets look into the future …

1) Three strike – graduated response and someone dying because they cant call for help.
2) Jail time for an iPod full of songs.
3) Doors getting broken down over the wrong IP address.
4) Ever increasing fees for public usage of music, radio, clubs, etc.

Now the unintended consequences …

1) Artists taking so much heat over this they leave the labels.
2) Artists not signing with the Labels because they dont want the negative vibes.
3) People finding alternative sources for music and creating communities to share info on where to find free and non ACTA/RIA/ASCAP/etc music.
4) Fans avoiding the record labels so as to not get arrested.
5) The record labels being lepers that no one want to deal with.

The same will start happening to the TV and movie studios as technology makes producing video easier and new business models begin appearing.

So act as giddy as you want its only temporary …

I so pray that ACTA passes into law … 🙂

ASTROBOY says:

Re: Broke the law?

It’s fine to say all laws should be obeyed as long as you also say all laws are good or at least well-intentioned. But we don’t have to look back very far to find laws we would all gladly break today. Old laws repressing various sex acts, drinking beer, belonging to political organisations our govt detested haunt our country. When a law gets passed because a group of wealthy people virtually bribe the govt to pass it, its a real question whether that law should be obeyed or resisted. Add that the enforcers often break their own laws and laugh about it and the problem gets a lot deeper than the “Just do as you’re told” mentality some folks have. If all we had to do to be happy and safe was slavishly obey each and every law to the letter, the question of “piracy” would have been answered decades ago.

. says:

Domestic.

http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=main&id=wolverine.htm

$180 million is only the domestic gross.
Worldwide was $370 million.

Also Wolverine toped the charts for DVD sales and rentals apparently.
http://screencrave.com/2009-09-24/x-men-origins-wolverine-tops-dvd-charts/

It sold $68 million dollars in DVDs.
http://www.the-numbers.com/movies/2009/WOLVE-DVD.php

And also a big big seller in the Bluray type.
http://www.videobusiness.com/article/CA6698791.html?industryid=47213

Yep piracy destroyed sales everywhere I see it now 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Tough one

In some ways AC is right, this guy appropriated a work in progress and broke the law. If someone came into my house stole the files for my new bestselling novel and posted on the internet, I’d be madder than hell and want the “law” to do something about it. Even if it went on to sell better than my brothers (Stephen King) latest novel.

On the other hand, as a taxpayer, I hope that the FBI would prioritize it’s use of resources to find more violent criminals and treats to national security. I don’t think this guy made any money from putting it on the internet or used it to rape his stepchildren.

vivaelamor (profile) says:

Re: Need to correct the law.

Yes, that sentiment is most commonly referred to as the harm principle. The harm principle cannot be applied in forethought though. Accepting for a moment that not making enough money might be considered harm, there would be no way that the accused in this case could have made that judgement about his actions. The harm principle better applies to issues such as drug usage and sexuality, so called victimless crimes.

You can of course argue that copyright infringement is a victimless crime and apply the harm principle to it in that way, but not by measurement of the success of a film. In applying that measurement you admit that there was a potential for harm in the first place.

I do believe that copyright infringement in most common cases is a victimless crime, not because people are often successful despite it but because withholding your money should not be considered harmful when no exchange has taken place or contract been entered into.

. says:

Laws based on morals.

I find that moral laws are a burden.

Laws based on emotions are even worst.

They don’t address practical issues and most of the time assume that we live in a perfect world.

We don’t we are flawed human beings that fall and get up and try again. Most of that fools talk about 0 tolerance takes away the assumption that people learn with their mistakes.

I get mad with people all the time do I act uppon that anger?

The answer is no, if I did I probably would have been shot already because I was snipping at everybody in the streets with a sniper riffle.

The funny part is that when is the people against corporations the people have to provide detailed information of the harm done and even risk physical injure.

Remember the tabaco industry, big pharma, coal companies, oil companies they only got punished when people after risking their lifes and lively hoods proved something at great cost and it turned into a scandal, now when it comes to big business passing absurd laws to make their life easier it seems that it takes nothing more then a dinner with no risk, no proof of any harm or anything.

Hmmm…people should be mad and get angry about that stuff.

Anonymous Coward says:

unknown losses

Regardless of how much the movie did make, there is the chance that it could have made *more* if the movie hadn’t been leaked. Posting how much the movie producers made only tells us half the story and is really pointless.

OTOH, I agree that the producers have missed a chance for free advertising (if they had handled this differently) and that the FBI really should have better things to do.

Jeffbe232 (profile) says:

Laws

The man stole something that didn’t belong to him. If ANY of you had something of yours stolen (personal or work related) you would be calling 911 so fast that the buttons would heat up on the phone. As far as the FBI having better things to do, people say that EVERY day about cops giving speeding tickets, but how many accidents are prevented because the jerk that just got the speeding ticket finally slowed down.

Please State Your Emergency says:

Re: Laws

No, I would not call 911 to report a theft if the perp were long gone … I would look up the non-emergency number and call to report the crime because I would not want to interfere with a possible real emergency, but that’s just me.

I do think that the FBI has better things to do. Linking this to police and speeding tickets … doesn’t make sense.

Your question about speeding tickets vs lives saved is silly. Now tailgating, that is a different matter.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Laws

“If ANY of you had something of yours stolen (personal or work related) you would be calling 911 so fast that the buttons would heat up on the phone.”

I once had my house burglarized and didn’t call the cops at all. You know why? Because dealing with the cops is a huge, unpleasant hassle that would have gained me nothing. The burglary itself was traumatic enough — I didn’t need to compound the situation by bringing cops into the equation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Laws

Because dealing with the cops is a huge, unpleasant hassle that would have gained me nothing.

How sad for you. I have always had very good relationships with the local police and have found the experiences to be very good. They were such a huge help in a particular situation that I gave the entire police department a pizza party in thanks for their help. It is unfortunate that your experience has been negative.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Laws

I have friends whose child was abducted from their home. They called the cops, obviously, and the cops found the child and apprehended the abductor. Thank goodness for that. However — the behavior of the cops toward all involved, particularly the child, was such that my friends have always regretted that the cops had to be involved, and to this day wish they they had a different option available.

Anonymous Coward says:

"..Don't You Feel Safer Now?"

It’s so pleasing to know our tax dollars are helping to fund the IP MAFIAA. }:> ;()
NOT!!!!!!!

CHEERS!! To the pirate that released the pre-release of Wolverine. A Heroes welcome! I’m SICK of the entertainment industry’s lies, deception, and dogma! If they want to reduce the pirating of their products, then ADOPT A DIFFERENT BUSINESS MODEL! :p

robin (profile) says:

Re: Re: "..Don't You Feel Safer Now?"

“So, you endorse him trespassing, possibly breaking and entering, and then stealing something that did not belong to him.”

yep, just like i endorsed a certain rosa parks who willfully and gleefully sat where it was clearly illegal for her to sit.

hyperbole? yes but a valid point, and quite different from your own hyperbole and fabrication:

“possibly breaking and entering”,
“appears to have stolen”,
“apparently stole”,

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: "..Don't You Feel Safer Now?"

Actually, no, there was no hyperbole or fabrication. We know for a fact that the individual obtained a physical copy of the film. So, the only question is what illegal actions did he (or someone who might have obtained the film for him) take? Clearly there was trepassing at some point. Illegal. A physical copy was taken, so the OWNER was DEPRIVED of that physical copy. These are FACTS, not FABRICATION. Do I need to explain the difference? The only question here is not whether the events took place, but whether the individual arrested was the one who committed the crimes, which is why I put things in terms of allegements rather than fact.

Rosa Parks was on a PUBLIC bus, not on someone’s PRIVATE property. I too endorsed Rosa Parks. Further, I chose to sit in the back of PUBLIC buses to help support equal PUBLIC rights for all persons, as I am sure you did at the time too.

So, you have introduced hyperbole by equating the public disobedience by Rosa Parks on a public bus with the multiple furtive and criminal acts of an individual on private property. Sorry, but the two are not even close.

Some hero you have chosen. I will reserve my praise for those who actually serve a public good, like firemen, the military, and the policeman responding to your 911 call.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 "..Don't You Feel Safer Now?"

Clearly there was trepassing at some point. Illegal. A physical copy was taken, so the OWNER was DEPRIVED of that physical copy. These are FACTS, not FABRICATION.

What is your source for these facts? The linked story says: “Gilberto Sanchez was arrested at his Bronx, New York home this morning and is expected to go before a magistrate judge later today on charges of violating federal copyright law.”

Notice, he’s not being charged with trespassing or theft, but copyright infringement. The story also says “Information on how Sanchez allegedly obtained the feature film is still yet unknown.”

So it appears you are, in fact, fabricating information. Unless you have another source you can point to.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 "..Don't You Feel Safer Now?"

Sorry if this is a double post, but it isn’t showing up.

Clearly there was trepassing at some point. Illegal. A physical copy was taken, so the OWNER was DEPRIVED of that physical copy. These are FACTS, not FABRICATION.

What is your source for these facts? The linked story says: “Gilberto Sanchez was arrested at his Bronx, New York home this morning and is expected to go before a magistrate judge later today on charges of violating federal copyright law.”

Notice, he’s not being charged with trespassing or theft, but copyright infringement. The story also says “Information on how Sanchez allegedly obtained the feature film is still yet unknown.”

So it appears you are, in fact, fabricating information. Unless you have another source you can point to.

Daemon_ZOGG (profile) says:

"..Don't You Feel Safer Now?"

It’s so pleasing to know our tax dollars are helping to fund the IP MAFIAA. }:> ;()
NOT!!!!!!!

CHEERS!! To the pirate that released the pre-release of Wolverine. A Heroes welcome! I’m SICK of the entertainment industry’s lies, deception, and dogma! If they want to reduce the pirating of their products, then ADOPT A DIFFERENT BUSINESS MODEL! :p

pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ says:

So, um, I guess, I am a little confused.

When you die, do you get to take it with you? Or do you just desire to leave all your riches to the man aside you on your deathbed?

If you’re worth anything, they will oftentimes be lawyers and people who have a vested interest in you… Dying.

What we’re starting to see here is the divestiture of early boomers into businesses to strengthen their 1970s mentality, ergo into their family. Should it continue, it will be a very troubling future.

Anonymous Coward says:

So you don’t think people that violate the law should be punished? File sharing, no. Stealing and leaking content, no. Sites that distribute it no.

Yeah, we get it. In one case you argue that you will just play wack a mole when trying to stop this, but then when the industry tries to go after the distributors you say you can’t do that either.

You also say that the industry executives are really stupid and don’t see the future, you write that Hollywood doesn’t know what they are doing and if they just produced better content, they would succeed. Then you write that the movie industry had their best year ever. Which one is right? They must be doing something right.

Yeah, we get your agenda.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Absolutely…it is pretty confusing, isn’t it?

The entertainment industry is saying that piracy is killing the industry and yet they are having record years and making more money than ever. Now, on top of all of that, their efforts to fight piracy are a bit like trying to hold a gallon of water without a container.

Given this, I think there is only one conclusion: piracy is having no negative impact on the entertainment industry and they are likely to be unable to stop most of it.

So, I think the logical next step is to either ignore the piracy or find a way to use it to increase profits. Spending time and money trying to fight it is apparently useless overhead and somehow embracing it it likely to make a lot of fans happy without hurting your bottom line.

anonsrule says:

corruption much?

The thief stole the movie from the actual studio. That is definitely a criminal matter and should be treated as such. As for him uploading it to the internet, that’s a civil matter and shouldn’t even be mentioned in the criminal case.

The fact that the FBI is even investigating and arresting him shows first hand just how corrupt things are.

The truth being if you are a multi million dollar industry you get special treatment from the authorities.

I am not even an anti capitalist or anything like that, but even I find this seriously offensive. The FBI should have stayed out of this.

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