Free Subtitles = Two Years In Jail?

from the but-why? dept

This one was submitted last week, and a few other sites had stories about it late last week or over the weekend, but the more I thought about it, the more ridiculous it became. It's the story of a group of folks in Poland getting arrested after having their homes raided for creating free translation subtitles for various movies. Not only is this considered copyright infringement in Poland, but it could net the pro bono translators two years in jail. This raises the question that no one seems willing to answer: under what logical basis could you possibly see this as a crime worth two years in jail? The most interesting part is that the guy who runs the site that distributes these subtitles claims that official translators often use the unofficial translations from the site. In other words, they're helping the industry in many cases -- and now police time (both German and Polish police) was wasted for no good reason, followed up by eventual court time and resources wasted. Aren't there more important things for German and Polish police to be taking care of these days? More importantly, though, what does it say about copyright law in Poland that creating an unofficial translation of a movie is considered a crime punishable by two years in jail?
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  1. identicon
    entr0py, 22 May 2007 @ 1:42am

    I've come here for an argument

    I do agree that 2 years is crazy. . . not that they've been sentenced or anything, the authorities still have a chance to give them a warning or slap on the wrist.

    But, when you think about it, subtitling a film is a vital step in pirating movies made in a foreign language. Obviously no one is going to attempt to watch a movie in a language they don't know unless it has subtitles. . . with the exception of porn. And why would a studio go to the expense of making a legitimate localization when the audience there has already seen a much cheaper pirated copy several months ago? I know at first it seems like a victimless crime, but imagine how much copyright holders could make in Poland if their attempts weren't sabotaged from the get go. That money ultimately would go into the production of more movies, which if you can follow my reaganesque logic, will trickle down to the poor families of under payed theater cleaners and video store employees. Thus moistening their miserable existence with droplets of hope.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go watch some fan-subbed anime.

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