by Mike Masnick
Thu, Aug 23rd 2007 11:06am
When discussing how silly it is that the movie industry freaks out about people uploading movies online, we often point to the case of the last Star Wars movie. That movie was leaked the week before the movie came out in the theaters and was downloaded by fans around the world -- and yet it only seemed to get people more excited to go out and see it in the theaters. There were huge lines and theaters sold out left and right. That's because it's the same thing that many of us have been saying for years: going to the movies is a social experience. People want to go out with their friends and have fun and see a movie in the theater (that is, if the theater makes the experience worth while and doesn't treat them all as criminals or children). However, what we didn't know about that Star Wars example is that one of the guys who uploaded it (and you can bet that it was more than just one guy) ended up getting arrested for doing so and eventually he plead guilty to 'conspiracy to commit copyright infringement' and 'criminal copyright infringement.' For that, he ended up in jail for five months with another five months of home confinement. The home confinement part includes an ankle bracelet he needs to wear. I'd challenge the movie industry to explain how this can possibly be fair, given the fact that there's almost no evidence his actions did any real damage. However, here's where it gets even better. As part of his home confinement, he agreed to install some tracking software on his computer, so his probation officer could track what he's doing (and, presumably, to make sure he's not uploading more stuff). Only problem? He's an Ubuntu Linux user and the gov't doesn't have any tracking software for Linux. So he's been told that he must use Windows for the term of his confinement. He did plead guilty so he has to accept the punishment -- but all in all it really does seem like the punishment is excessive given the actual damage caused.
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