Iran Cracks Down On Movie Pirates In The Most Inception-Esque Manner Possible

from the pirate-vs.-pirate dept

For those of us that pay attention to copyright matters throughout the world, a story out of Iran has had us riding a strange sort of roller coaster. Late in September, the Iranian government arrested six people it says run the movie-streaming site TinyMoviez. That site is like many others on the web, focusing on the streaming of Hollywood movies in a manner that is pretty clear-cut piracy. Iran does have copyright laws on the books, which include punishments for “anyone who publishes, distributes or broadcasts another person’s work without permission,” ranging from imprisonment for a few months to three years for violating that law. There are, however, no agreements on copyright between American and Iran, for obvious reasons, so the application of Iranian copyright law tends to be focused on Iranian content. Many were left scratching their heads wondering why the arrest had been made.

Well, it turns out that the government carried this out at the request of several other websites dedicated to pirating Hollywood content in Iran. Iranian pirate sites that are officially licensed, in fact.

However, according to a source cited by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), the site was targeted because rival pirate sites (which had been licensed to ‘pirate’ by the Iranian government) complained about its unlicensed status.

“In July and August [2017], there was a meeting between a number of Iranian start-up companies and [current Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari] Jahromi, who was asked by film and TV series distributors as well as video game developers to help shut down and monitor unlicensed rivals,” a film distributor in Tehran told CHRI.

“The start-ups made the request because they could not compete with a site like TinyMovies,” the source added.

We live in very strange times, friends. Essentially, the Iranian government licenses websites that stream or upload Hollywood content for pirating, and TinyMoviez wasn’t of the licensed variety. The licensed pirate sites complained to the government that they could not compete with an unlicensed pirate site and asked the government to shut them down. If you feel like you’re trapped in a showing of Inception at this point, I won’t blame you, as the concerns from licensed pirate sites sound almost identical to Hollywood itself. Pirates getting pirate sites taken down is a notable occurrence.

For its part, the Iranian government has suggested it took down TinyMoviez for far more banal reasons in the Iranian tradition.

“Tehran’s prosecutor, after referral of the case to the Cyberspace corruption and prostitution department, said that the defendants in the case, of whom six were currently detained, produced vagabond and pornographic films and sold them in cyberspace,” Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi said in an announcement.

“This gang illegally operated the largest source for downloading Hollywood movies and over the past three years, has distributed 18,000 foreign films and series after dubbing, many of which were indecent and immoral, and thus facilitated by illegitimate funds.”

Yet the site’s offerings were essentially indistinguishable from that of the licensed pirate sites. This was all about the license, it seems. I’m not sure what it says about the state of copyright or ownership culture when we’ve reached the stage where pirates are getting pirate sites taken down by governments. Maybe this is the sort of thing that could only happen in a country like Iran. Or maybe the capture of the state through lobbying efforts has reached a new low. Either way, strange times.

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Comments on “Iran Cracks Down On Movie Pirates In The Most Inception-Esque Manner Possible”

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18 Comments
orbitalinsertion (profile) says:

Re: Re:

They have long been not so much sticking their finger, but simply ignoring everyone, in this department. This includes the licensed infringement scheme. It’s not so much about the infringement, and more about the license to publish. Aside from maintaining general control, this allows for rewarding or punishing individuals via licensing, and more easily repressing things that are out of favor at some particular time. There is a long history of this with printed books.

OGquaker says:

Re: Re: technically....

‘..the capture of the state through lobbying efforts..’

When i was digging up Native American Indian graves, the joke was that we were ‘Pothole Diggers'(illegals) with a franchise permit from a California University.
This capture of the State through lobbying efforts made no difference to those violated, they received no compensation for their contribution.

Breakfast looks a lot different to the chicken than to the pig.

~~~~~~~~~~
Sony (the Japanese) need to make sure Trump keeps the Iran deal in place.

OGquaker says:

Re: Re: Re: technically....

Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc. (SPE)
is an American entertainment company that is currently operated as
a subsidiary of Sony Film Holding Inc.,
a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment Inc.,
which is a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America,
a subsidiary of Sony Americas Holding Inc.,
a subsidiary of the Tokyo-based multinational technology and media conglomerate Sony Corporation.
Which pays the authors* for their contribution.

As any Company doing business, it must ask for a permit (permission) from the Franchise Tax Board & the California Secretary Of State.

* ”The Congress shall have power … To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries”

~~~~~
Thankyou WiKi.

Anonymous Coward says:

No different than the pirate movie sites here complaining that they dont allow ad blockers because that is how they make money. They take from others, while complaining that they are being prevented from making a buck. Imagine a pawn shop telling the police that sure everything we sell is stolen, but if we dont do that, we cant stay in business.

TenderBabyMeat (profile) says:

Somewhere, in a Hollywood Exec's corner office...

“Essentially, the Iranian government licenses websites that stream or upload Hollywood content for pirating, and TinyMoviez wasn’t of the licensed variety. The licensed pirate sites complained to the government that they could not compete with an unlicensed pirate site and asked the government to shut them down.”

Yeah, I’m guessing there is an Hollywood Exec somewhere stating that they have the strangest boner right now. Pirates being punished, but for the benefit of other pirates. I wonder how they will manage to reconcile that with themselves.

OGquaker says:

Re: Somewhere, in Japan a Hollywood an Exec..

Like Sony has nothing coming back from Iran?

” Now that sanctions have been lifted, Iran hopes to increase crude oil production and to export more than 2.5 million barrels per day. “Japanese companies will have a firm position in the future of oil business with Iran and nothing can make a gap between Iran and Japan,” Mousavi said. ” Sep 14, 2016
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/09/14/business/iran-oil-terminal-offers-japan-priority-deals-thank-support/

BentFranklin (profile) says:

“Tehran’s prosecutor, after referral of the case to the Cyberspace corruption and prostitution department, said that the defendants in the case, of whom six were currently detained, produced vagabond and pornographic films and sold them in cyberspace,” Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi said in an announcement.

I have never heard of vagabond movies. How can I get in on some of that action?

mb (profile) says:

Good Sheeple

It seems like most people have forgotten (or just never considered) that copyright is not real. In both literal and figurative terms.
Copyright does not apply to real property, only to intellectual property. It is, therefore, impossible to steal intellectual property, since theft can only apply to real property–by taking something real (stealing), I am denying you the enjoyment of that thing. By sharing intellectual property, culture and society as a whole is enriched.
In a figurative sense, copyright is also not real. It is an imaginary concept developed by the state, to grant an artificial monopoly on ideas.

If your state does not sanction it, it does not exist.

Anonymous Coward says:

Guys it was because of uncensored content. For instance the movies had love scenes. It wasn’t because of copyright 🙂
So they were saying that the movies had illegal content. So the arresting and other stuff was not about copyright. Iran doesn’t have any specific copyright rule about foreign countries software, movies, books ,etc.

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