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
    Don, 21 May 2007 @ 2:40am

    Ultimately futile

    This is ridiculous for several reasons. For starters, most of these effort are being forced by content/copyright holders who have managed to create a system that deprives most actual content/copyright creators of the advantages that copyrights and patents were intended to provide and creates little more than a form of welfare for corporate stockholders (stocks having become little more than a corporate welfare system themselves in most cases).

    The problem here is the more they tighten copyright and IP protections to benefit a small class of individuals (mostly corporations), the more the general population is going to simply ignore even the historical "legitimate" use of copyright. This has, in fact, already started to happen. I know quite a few people who used to be hardcore supporters of copyright stop caring about it altogether the more organizations/companies like the RIAA and Disney tighten their restrictions. This only really hurts the people copyright was actually designed to help.

    In the end it doesn't really matter what they make "legal" or "illegal", society as a rule will merely ignore what they consider to be bad laws and regulations. And if the industry and governments think they can eventually enforce acceptance of these rules permanently, I suggest they go pick up some history books and read how successful other cultures/societies have been in the long run.

    I particularly recommend some reading of Colonial America in the 1700's. Oh, sure the British were able to enforce their dictates and "laws" for a couple of decades, but in the end the backlash was simply too much. The same will eventually happen here.

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